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spins yarn

Enchanted Moura

An Enchanted Moura (Moura Encantada) is a supernatural being found in the fairy tales of Portuguese folklore, often appearing as a beautiful young lady with either long golden or black hair. Mouras Encantadas are magical ladies who guard castles, caves, bridges, wells, rivers, and treasures, and they can promise treasures to those who break their spells or to those who keep secrecy of their gold.

In some fairy tales they are beautiful Muslim princesses (Princesa Moura) who live in castles at the time of the Reconquest, and fall in love with a Portuguese Christian knight; in other fairy tales a Moura Encantada, who lives in a castle under the earth, is in the place of the Christian knight. In still other variants the Moura Encantada is a Spinning Lady Moor (Moura-fiandeira), who carries stones on her head and spins yarn with a spinning wheel carried on her waist to build a hill fort. The Mouras Encantadas are the builders of the hill forts, the dolmens, and the megaliths, and still live there. The Mouras Encantadas who reside in dolmens and megaliths are named Pedra-Moura.

In some fairy tales the Moura Encantada is a shapeshifter that takes the form of a snake (Moura-serpente).

The fairy tales featuring Mouras Encantadas are thought to be of pre-Roman, Indo-European Celtic origin and are related to other Indo-European and especially Celtic female divinities of the water. Almost every Portuguese town has a tale of a Moura Encantada.

References

Brandão, Abílio. Lendas de Mouras encantadas. Revista Lusitana, Volume XIV Lisboa: Livraria Clássica Editora, 1911.

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