In Flemish folklore, Kludde was a malicious water or tree spirit.
Kludde is said to have lived in hollow trees or to have lived in lakes and be amphibious. Kludde left his home only at night, either just before dawn or just after sunset, hunting for travelers to torment or even slay.
Kludde usually took the shape of a gigantic black dog with large claws and protruding eyes. He was larger and bulkier than a Saint Bernard, and he walked on his hind legs. Iron chains hung on his body and dragged on the ground around him. Despite this awkward posture and the burden of the chains, Kludde was able to move more swiftly than a man. A shape-shifter, Kludde also could take the form of a huge black cat or terrible black bird, or swing swiftly through the trees as a great serpent.
The only warning of his approach was the sound of rattling chains. Whatever shape Kludde took, he remained covered with chains. Sometimes, the whim would strike him to walk along with a traveler without doing any harm and to let the traveler go when the person entered a house. At other times, Kludde would leap onto a traveler’s back and cling so ﬁrmly that he could not be shaken free. The traveler would be forced to carry Kludde as he grew heavier with every step. In extreme cases, Kludde would even kill the traveler.
Kludde is said to have lived for a time on a small bridge near the town of Schelle. One night, he leaped onto a woman’s back and clung there until she managed to struggle home. ThenKludde sprung off and ran away into the night.
In another neighborhood in Schelle, a family happened to be talking about Kludde when they heard the sound of chains in the
hallway. When they prayed, the sound stopped. But it came again the next night, and the night after that. Their neighbor was a butcher, who promised to help them. When the sound started again that night, the butcher ran into the house with a large knife in one hand. Coming face to face with Kludde, the butcher threw his knife, striking Kludde and causing him to howl in pain, race off, and never return to Schelle.
A close relative of Kludde’s was Osschaart, who was also a shape-shifter. Osschaart looked like a man-headed bull in chains. Osschaart harassed travelers and any ﬁshermen who failed to throw their ﬁrst catch back into the water.