About a life devoted to the love for Folklore, Mythology, Legends and.....Art

Friday, April 24, 2009

The man with the Hook - A Dutch Folk tale

The man with the Hook, is one of the most haunting stories I know concerning water spirits. Ever since I laid my hands on a copy of this story, I have not been able to put the image of this monstrous spirit out of my mind. It must have been four years ago when I first read the story and now, at last, I have illustrated this wonderful, but slightly macabre, Dutch folk-tale.

The story as I first read it is as follows:

'The man with the hook is feared by all children. Most parents have only seen his green eyes below the water surface. They, who saw a bit more of this creature, say he has a black skin, webs between his toes and fingers and long hair which has run wild.
He drowns the children he has caught and then suck out the blood. Their souls are kept in pitchers turned upside down which can only be released when the pitchers are knocked over.
(J.R.W. Sinninghe)
(click picture for bigger view)

Water spirits were often used to scare children and keep them away from the water. I myself remember how my grandmother told me about 'de Bullebak'. Some grotesque frog which eats children after he has drowned them. Especially here, in Holland, where water is everywhere to be seen these stories played a big part in folklore.

The souls which are kept in pitchers or bottles are quite common in many tales about water spirits. So, I thought it was worth illustrating just this little detail as well.
I know it's not a pitcher as the story above describes but as I wanted the soul to be seen I decided it would be better to draw a bottle instead.
(click picture for bigger view)

It brings me so much joy to illustrate these creatures and their habits, but it frustrates me as well. As I know I will never be able to put all those beautiful myths and legends down on paper. There are thousands of these creatures dwelling in our rivers and at sea and only a handful which will reach the paper.

So who will be next? Jenny Greenteeth, Nickelman, Fossegrim, Morskoi Tsar, In-Guas, Awabi or......

PS; for those who are interested, prints accompanied with story are now available at my
Etsy shop!


  1. Hi,
    I just adore your beautiful artwork and have been admiring it for many years. I am so delighted that you now have a blog and I can't wait to add you to my beautiful blog list. I am also featuring you this week in my Saturday Shopping List. Thank you for creating such amazing and enchanting artwork.
    Sophie x

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words and for featuring my work on your wonderful blog.

    It is much appreciated!

  3. Ooooh how chilling. I love the drawings!

  4. Your art is absolutely beautiful.