Thursday, April 22, 2010

Incubo - Nightmare

A new character from Dino Coltro's book Gnomi, anguane e basilischi.

Nowadays, an incubo (nightmare) is a dream full of anguish and fear, but the meaning has changed during the centuries. The italian word, incubo, comes from latin incubare, which means "to sit, to lie on top of someone or something"; a incubo was originally a kind of dwarfish evil creature sitting on the breast of sleepers, making breathing difficult. In english too, the same "shift" has occurred. According to the online etymology dictionary, a nightmare was "an evil female spirit afflicting sleepers with a feeling of suffocation".

Anyway, the original meaning of incubo has been retained in popular culture, and the little creature is the subject of a couple of drawings:

 and a watercolor (alas, the scanner has butchered a bit the colors):

Incidentally, you may want to look at a painting by Johann Heinrich Füssli on the same subject.


  1. That last one is very embryo-like, in a creepy way (which is good if that's what you're going for).

  2. Yes, it may be creepy, although the "embryo-likeness" was not intentional.
    Despite all the account about the original meaning of "nightmare", I still think that the little monster should suggest or depict the scary dream of the boy.