Šumske dekle ("forest girls") also known as forest maids and Woodland Lasses are wild women of Croatia (ved, vedi female) that were observed prior to World War I. They are covered with reddish or black hair, except for the face, square elf-like head and long strong arms.
They are described to be a little shorter then humans even though they are much stronger with longer arms and legs.
They never speak with humans but they can be heard shrieking and screaming in the woods (probably the way of vocal/gestural communication)
Their sightings stopped after WWI.
If Šumske Dekle really existed, the whole species could be accidentally wiped out by the war.
"Šumske dekle-Ved, Vedi-Unconfirmed Hominid-Croatia"-Jay Dee`s Unknown shades
"Shrieks and screams. Sometimes visits houses or stables in search of warmth and food. Said to harvest grain, bake bread and catch fish. Able to breed with humans..."-Mysterious creatures: Guide to Cryptozoology
Distribution (location): between Novigrad, Podravski and Ferdinandovac-Croatia
"Forest maid is a hairy woman who is always looking for warmth so she crawls among cattle, among the shepherds when they sleep in the hayloft, she is not malicious."-Legend of Croatian Fairies
When humans leave food out for them they will return the favour by cleaning their houses.
#1- One winter around 1870 two brothers named Paurović were sleeping in their stable at Severovac, Croatia.
One of the two brothers woke up to find a hairy forest girl standing between them. He touched her, and she ran out the door. They chased her, but it was snowing so they couldn't catch her. "And how did the girl survive the heavy snow storm at the first place," the brothers wondered.
#2- Far, far away in the Plava Šuma, a man had a pig wheel. He killed pigs and went into woods to collect honey every fall. This time he sat under the hive and saw human footprints in the mud and said to him self:
"I need this honey for winter, I really hope no one steals it before me!"
He turned around and then he saw it!
Hairy all over her body, seeing only her eyes and mouth. Her long hairy arms dragged through the mud. Man was afraid, of that creature, but snatched the pole and started beating it. Stinging it hardest an old man like him could. A creature screams and cover its eyes with its long hands. Its hands were very long. The man noticed that it was not the voice of a man.
"God, it is the forest maid (Šumska Dekla)!"
It was really a forest girl. I stopped beating her, but she pushed the pole, pushed below the hive, and she took the honey. She left, she went away.
Man stops chasing her and returns to his shed.
#3- A few more sightings took place (mostly in Plava Šuma), but they stopped after WWI.
Šumske dekle are a type of species called Vedi.
A ved ("forest man") is a mythological being recorded in the region of Bilogora in northern Croatia, predominantly among the region's speakers of the Kajkavian dialect. The vedi (plural) were described as male human-like creatures as high as a peasant house, completely covered with hair. They were very strong, able to uproot trees and carry heavy loads, while their chest was so large that they could make storms by blowing. When they spoke or sang, it was heard far away. They lived deep in the forests of Bilogora, where they built their towns, and were divided into tribes.
There were good and bad vedi. The latter did not associate with people and stayed in their forests, because of which they were also called the forest vedi. They normally did no harm to people, but if a bad ved encountered a young man in a forest, he would take him to his town and keep him as a slave for some time. The man would be often maltreated by his master, and eventually set free emaciated.
The good vedi visited people and helped them in their every-day work or troubles. Each household had its own ved who was very devoted to it, often to the extent that he did harm to other households and their vedi. If people expected a flood, storm, or other calamity, they would pray, "Grant, Oh God, that our vedi help us!" or "Dear God, grant that our vedi help us, and that their vedi do no harm to us!" Stories have it that after such prayers the vedi would quickly come to rescue.
Last accounts of vedi visiting people date from the mid 19th century. In the end only certain individuals were allegedly able to see them.
"Long time ago from the mountains of Bilo-gora all the way to Kalinovac and Ferdinandovac near Drava (river) big forest streched. In the forest there were a lots of beasts and animals, but-by the belif- some of unusual human-like creatures. Residents of the county called them Vedi."-Mitološke predaje Bilo-gore (Mytological tales of Bilo-gora)
"They were tall humanoid creatures (normal Vedi is male while Šumska Dekla is female), their body was like humans except covered with hair. When they talk and sing, it`s heard far away. They were very strong and could carry heavy burden.
It seems they that were dressed, but their clothes had to very poor judging by the saying "Zdrpan si kak Ved (Your ragged like a Ved)" which is still heard in those parts.
They lived in tribes in the depths of the forest and had their own villages. It`s unknown how their villages look like but they had to be big because on some land clearing you can find some giant bricks."-Legend of Vedi
"Belief in Vedi started in the middle of the 19th century, they are almost forgotten in their native land..."-The centre of fourten zoology CFZ
Types of Vedi
There are good and bad vedi.
Bad or Hudi vedi didn't hang out with humans, instead they stayed in their forest. So they were called forest Vedi or šumski Vedi. They didn't kill humans, but if they found a younger human in the forest they would take him in their village and held him there as a slave for a long time.
They also tortured him, but finally they would let him go all exhausted and hungry.
Good Vedi helped people, almost every house had their Ved that helped them.
That type of Ved was so loyal to his human that he did bad things to other houses, people and their Ved -
chased their livestock, brake walls etc.
Another example is male and female Vedi. Female Vedi are Šumske Dekle, name of males is unknown, they are referred to just as Vedi.
Although there are not so many sightings of Šumske Dekle like there are of male Vedi, some people describe them like an ape like humanoid women and some like humanoid fairies with long arms and legs
,,Vedi could be a type of primate that lived in the Bilogora region of Croatia, but died out due to the war..."-The archetype of the ape-man: The Phenomenological Archaeology of a Relic
It's unlikely that a type of primate lived in Croatia due to it's unsuitable climate and habitat
[Picture on the right-an ape that is similar to that of how some people describe Šumske Dekle]
Relationship with humans
Ved was very attached to his human. This is a quote from an old book from Ivan Matejak from Ferdinandovac in 1961: (translated from Croatian to English)
"Every human from this parts had a Ved who helped him with his house. In his garden the Ved made a cherry tree which never dies. On the top there were big, red, juicy cherries that the human couldn't reach so he called out the Ved who was tall to help him. So he did. They all feasted on the cherries..."
"People also gave their Vedi names by the fields in the county like Miklići, Patački, Bušica etc."-Željko Krčmar (1942)
Some families even take the name of their Vedi an make it their family name like Patački is a often name (surname) in those parts.
Vedi is not immortal and can die like a human. That is a conclusion people made because they found skeletons in the forest (shin bones were 70-80 cm wide). According to the legend one resident was doing tillage when he found a Vedi grave .
Cultural and art references
There are numerous references including a mythological performance which includes people dressed in Šumske Dekle and fairies walking in the park in Zagreb, Croatia and art works by well known Croatian and Slovenian artists.
The most well known is "Ivin fotoaparat" where an Croatian photographer creates beautiful pictures with mythological fairies and Šumske Dekle and also Vedi and other Slavic legendary creatures
There is also a film coming in 2018 about Vedi and Šumske Dekle of Bilogora.
Here's a clip from a documentary about Myths of Bilogora:
Sources: "Mysterious creatures:Guide to Cryptozoology", Slavic Mytology, "Creatures from the Bilogora northen Croatia", Jan Machal, "Sasquatch and the other unknown humanoid creatures", Mytological tales of Bilogora, Zvonko Lovrenčević, Marshall Jones (1918), Hrvatski mitovi i legende, The centre of fortean zoology CFZ, The archtype of ape-Man, Vladimir Marktac etc.