House of Taga in 1818
Jacques Arago, artist
Sometime around 1850 or so, an American sea captain, Alfred K. Fisher, visited Tinian. Not surprisingly, the focus of his subsequent tale, published in American newspapers, was the House of Taga and its mighty latte stones, and the story of its builder, Chief Taga.
But there was also a description of dwarves by one Juan Taitano, a Chamorro of Hagåtña who knew much about Tinian and the story of Taga. Fisher was advised to go and interview Taitano, who shared stories about dwarves on Tinian. These drarves can be none other than the duendes.
But Taitano shared some things about these duendes that differ somewhat from what is said about them today. Keep in mind that Taitano's story is from 1852 and that folklore changes over time in some aspects. Also keep in mind that the story is not directly from Taitano himself, but rather from an American newspaper writer who could be 2 or 3 persons distant from Taitano, the original source. Things can change between the original source and the third person quoting that source!
Benevolent. One of the first differences between our modern idea about the duendes and Taitano's version is that the duendes were kind, rather than mischievous, as we believe them to be today. Rather than kidnap children, the duendes found lost children in the jungle and returned them to the parents.
Secondly, when the duendes saw how the giant spirits (perhaps what we call taotaomo'na today) punished people with sickness, the duendes came day or night to heal the stricken. Indeed, the duendes healed any poor person who was sick, no matter the occasion.
Reclusive. This is not so different from our modern idea of the duendes, but Taitano says that the duendes do not speak at all. This differs from what some older people say about the duendes, whom, they say, have been heard to speak in an unintelligible language.
Descendants of Taga. According to Taitano, the duendes were the children of the daughter of Taga, who had married a giant. Though small, the duendes were powerful.
Eyewitness Description. Taitano claims to have seen a duendes himself. It happened one night when he was sleeping in the jungle. He awoke in the middle of the night to see one dwarf looking intently at him. The duendes had big blue eyes and was staring at Taitano with a mild and gentle look. The duendes vanished quickly, as soon as Taitano awoke and looked at the duendes briefly.
For more about the duendes :