Koro-pok-guru, also written koropokkuru, korobokkuru, or koropokkur, are a race of small people in Ainu folklore. The name is traditionally analysed as a tripartite compound of "kor" or "koro" ("butterbur plant"), "pok" ("under, below"), and "kur" or "kuru" ("man, husband, person") and interpreted to mean "people below the leaves of the
butterburplant" in the Ainu language.
The Ainu believe that the "koro-pok-guru" were the people who lived in the Ainu's land before the Ainu themselves lived there. They were short of stature, agile, and skilled at fishing. They lived in pits with roofs made from butterbur leaves.
Long ago, the "koro-pok-guru" were on good terms with the Ainu, and would send them deer, fish, and other game and exchange goods with them. The little people hated to be seen, however, so they would stealthily make their deliveries under cover of night.
One day, a young Ainu man decided he wanted to see a "koro-pok-guru" for himself, so he waited in ambush by the window where their gifts were usually left. When a "koro-pok-guru" came to place something there, the young man grabbed it by the hand and dragged it inside. It turned out to be a beautiful "koro-pok-guru" woman, who was so enraged at the young man's rudeness that her people have not been seen since. Their pits, pottery, and stone implements, the Ainu believe, still remain scattered about the landscape.
In popular culture
* "Korobokuru" appear as a playable race in the "
Dungeons & Dragons": " Oriental Adventures" rulebook, but do not appear in the base setting of Rokugan. They are described as short, insular, animist humanoids dwelling in remote and wild regions of the world.
* In the
manga" Shaman King" the "koropokkur" ("minutians" in the English version) are depicted as a race of tiny spirit creatures which are influential to the background of the teenage Ainu shaman Horohoro. A particular "koropokkur"—named Kororo (Corey, in English)—accompanies Horohoro as his guardian spirit.
* In the
video game" Ōkami", a tiny people known as "poncles" (from Ainu "pon-kur" "small person") live underground in the small city of Ponctan (from Ainu "pon-kotan" "small village"). The city is located in the territory of a tribe known as the "Oina" (a reference to the Ainu people). The territory is "Kamui", which is the Ainu word for god. Issun (named for the Japanese fairy tale character One-inch boy), who travels with the protagonist throughout the game, is one of these poncles.
* The Natsume
video game" Harvest Moon DS" is called "Bokujou Monogatari: Colobocle Station" in Japan. Like other games in the "Harvest Moon" series, it features tiny people who help out around the farm (called "harvest sprites" in the English version).
Square Enix video game" Seiken Densetsu 3" has a race of really small creatures called "Korobockles".
* [http://64.1911encyclopedia.org/A/AI/AINU.htm LoveToKnow Article on AINU] – A text from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica which includes a somewhat different interpretation of the koro-pok-guru.
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