The Hairies: Thoughts from Africa August 5, 2012Posted by Beachcombing in : Contemporary, Modern , trackback
Beach has only very inadequate knowledge of cryptozoology, so if he says things here that are unoriginal, stupid or dangerous he wants to apologise ahead of time. It is just that he didn’t go to sleep until very late last night because he found this stuff so interesting. He knows that there are ape men (big foot, sasquatch, yeti etc) in wilderness areas. But he had not understood previously the sheer range of these ‘hairies’. Take this reference from the Ewe in western Africa about their ‘forest human’ or, let’s not mince words, ‘forest devil’:
The beings live in the forests and they have long hair which they never cut. Sometimes the forest man is spoken of as a stupid, tractable being who was completely fooled by a peasant. The natives tells how a peasant wished to get rid of the forest being that visited his fields. The peasant ordered him to take away all the foot-prints which he had made on the peasant’s land. The forest devil started to do so, but in the course of his work made him so tired and desperate that he went back to the forest. In this manner, it is told, the peasant got ride of the undesirable guest who used to visit his tilled fields.
Beach finds himself wondering if the ‘hairies’ are not in the end our apology to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. We gave up your way of life – and there is no question that you had more fun – and we settled down in huts, bungalows and latterly tower blocks. The hairies are the animal in man, before we began our long escape from the seasons.
Apparently there are other theories of hairies’ origins, that they are memories of Neanderthals and the like: human cousins that didn’t make it. This is the exact parallel of the fairies are pygmies arguments from the late nineteenth century. And they also beg the question about why groups see hairies in places where to the best of our knowledge there were not other humanoids. Again Beach pleads ignorance, but just how likely is it that non-human humanoids reached the Americas. Aren’t the dates, even the earliest screw-Clover dates just too late for this? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
In another tale the forest devil is described as being of human shape, as tall as a child of four or five. They believe that his foot-prints are so formed that the fore part of the foot seems to be the back part, and vice versa. The forest being has his home in great, hollow trees, in termite hills, at cross-roads or in rock-caves, situated in the very depth of the forest. If anybody goes to the forest in order to gather fuel and meets Adee, this being takes the fuel and dims and distorts his sight so that he cannot find his way back from the forest again. Searchers who are sent out to seek him, usually find him after three or four days, wandering about in the forest without knowing where he is or what has happened.
Pixy-led in the jungle. Nice! This leads Beach to a last reflection. British folklore is full of ‘hairies’ the solitary fairies who come and help humans in their houses and who get angry when offered clothes. Yet the strange thing here is that the hairy fairies are the most domesticated of all our fey. Why?
31 August 2012: Dr Turkey writes: I don’t think this is what you’re looking for but your description of the ‘hairies’ brought back memories from medical school. Have you ever heard of hypertrichosis? The Wikipedia page is a rough, but not too bad summary. I wonder if these could perhaps be the hairies? A rare condition, to be sure, but one that’s been around a while…’ Ozzie in Honolulu writes: I think one of the nicest summaries of hairy types is Ivan T Sanderson’s Abominable Snowman: Legend Come to Life. For the most part Sanderson was in his biologist/collector mode, rather than his “weird shit” mode, and he does a nice job of breaking the hairies down by geographical area and ecologic zone. The book was long out of print, but is now available Amazon. Do be careful if you buy the Adventures Unlimited edition, since they are definitely into the above mentioned WS and have made some (fortunately minor) additions and changes. It’s available as well as in an electronic form which seems to be the original 1961 Chilton edition. Keep in mind that it was originally published in 1950, so is out of date on some points. It’s still the best overview in my opinion. KMH, meanwhile, has this to say: The hairiness of the human race has diminished substantially over the last 40 to 50 thousand years, more quickly than natural selection can account for. It turns out that hair isn’t useful for activities not performed by animals, or for promoting human society. As a global species, we are much better off with clothing than with hair, but we don’t possess the original level of animal integrity. The naturism or nudism movement is definitely degenerative The more any specimen departs in appearance from the human race, the less likely it originated with the human race. Just as important, perhaps even more, is the spiritual origin. The more the behaviour of any specimen differs from true human behaviour, the less human it actually is, regardless of appearances. This makes complex world of man-like creatures, normal or paranormal, difficult to comprehend without spending much time with them. Then we have the Count in one of his inimitable mails: ‘You say that you know very little about cryptozoolgy, but you could do worse than look into it. Almost all of it is complete BS – the number of hairy hominids supposedly dwelling throughout most of the world makes their non-acceptance by science equivalent to, and actually worse than totally failing to accept the existence of any member of the cat family other than the domestic variety because somehow nobody has ever killed or captured a lion or tiger. It should also be noted that Nigel Kneale of Quatermass fame wrote a very obscure BBC series proposing that the Yeti has escaped detection thus far because it has extraordinary telepathic abilities. This was made into an equally obscure Hammer film starring Peter Cushing, and was parodied as a downright surreal episode of The Goon Show (of which I have a copy – I’ll transmit it to you if desired – is m4a an acceptable format or would you prefer mp3?). The thing is, this concept has actually entered Yeti and Bigfoot folklore because it neatly explains why nobody can trap or shoot one, although everybody has by now forgotten its fictional origin. Oh, by the way, Tibetans believe in several different species of Himalayan ape-creature. Your classic Yeti is basically a gorilla – a huge but essentially benign beast. The Mi-go, on the other hand, are smaller but much nastier (they’re the ones whose name translates very loosely as “abominable snowman”) – absolutely identical to your malign monkey-men, in fact. Did you know that the actor James Stewart smuggled a sacred mummified Yeti paw out of Tibet in his underpants? Seriously! Unfortunately he wasn’t wearing them at the time. And even more unfortunately it turned out to be nothing more than a very old human hand. But hey, I thought you’d enjoy a Jimmy Stewart Yeti connection. Sadly Marilyn Monroe didn’t as far as we know have an affair with Nessie – JFK was as mythical as she ever got.’ Thanks Doc and Ozzie and the Count.