Ankou is a personification of death in Breton mythology.
It is said that he is the one who collects the souls of the dead and aids them on their journey to the next world, in his rickety old cart. The cart is pulled along either by two horses, one of which is old and thin while the other is youthful and strong, or by four black horses of unspecified age.
According to legend he is tall, and wears a wide-brimmed hat and long coat. Some tales have it that he has two companions, who are skeletons in some versions, following behind his cart and tossing the dead into it.
There are many tales involving Ankou. According to some he was the first child of Adam and Eve. Other versions have it that the Ankou is the first dead person of the year (though he is always depicted as adult, and male), charged with collecting the others before he can go to the afterlife.
One says that there were three drunk friends walking home one night, when they came across an old man on a rickety cart. Two of the men started shouting at Ankou, and then throwing stones, when they broke the axle on his cart they ran off.
The third friend felt bad, and so wanting to help Ankou, first found a branch to replace the broken axle, and then gave Ankou his shoe-laces to tie it to the cart with. The next morning, the two friends who were throwing stones at Ankou were dead, while the one who stayed to help only had his hair turned white. He would never speak in detail about how it happened.
Ankou, who is king of the dead, and his subjects have their own
particular paths along which their sacred processions move.
MESSAGE in FRENCH :
L'implacable Ankou nous met en garde contre l'oubli de notre fin dernière. Ces sentences sont gravées sur les murs d'ossuaires ou églises : « Je vous tue tous" (Brasparts et La Roche-Maurice), "Souviens-toi homme que tu es poussière" (La Roche-Maurice) ou encore, inscrit en breton, "La mort, le jugement, l'enfer froid : quand l'homme y pense, il doit trembler" (La Martyre)
Mensaje en lengua española :
El implacable Ankou nos advierte contra el olvido de nuestro último fin. Estas sentencias son grabadas en las paredes de ossuaires o iglesias .