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the west coast of Sumatra, and Galvano has an account of Sumatrans with tails like a sheep's. The fifteenth century History of the Ming Dynasty pictures the Borneo village of Wu-lung-litan and its tailed citizens. When they see other men approaching they flee with their hands over their faces. The resemblance of the name to orang-utan, or “wild men,” will not escape notice. Colonel Yule tells of a trader who had examined the tails on a tribe on the northeast coast of Borneo. These appendages were long and so stiff that the natives had to use perforated seats; Arab, Malay, and native travelers report having seen them squatting on these little stools. John Struys, a Dutch traveler in Formosa, saw there in 1677 a man with a tail "more than a foot long, covered with red hair, and very like a cow's.” The man said the tail was the effect of climate and all the natives on the southern side of the island had them.
There were two archipelagoes known as the Satyr Islands. Ptolemy mentions one of them, and Gerini identifies it with the Northern Anambas lying off the Indo-Chinese ma'inland. Hsitung, supposed to be a transcript of Syatan, was their name of old; the resemblance of Syatan to the Greek Satyron may have led Levantine sailors to make this jest at the expense of illfavored little people living then in the Anamba group. To reach the other archipelago one must steer through the Pillars of Hercules in company with a Carian sailor of the second century. Him Pausanias asked what he knew about the satyrs. The Carian replied that in a voyage to Italy he was driven from his course to a distant sea whither people no longer sail. Here were many islands which the crew did not care to touch, and these they called the Satyr Islands. Their inhabitants were red-haired and had tails not much smaller than a horse's.
Many African tribes wore animal tails for ornament, and explorers were sometimes misled by the custom. The Duir of the northeast attached two antelope tails to their girdles. The Wa. Kavorondo, east of the Nyanza, go naked or wear only a waistcloth, and the women attach to it a tail of bark. In the same quarter of Africa the Bongo women, with their large hips and lubricious gait, have had a share in propagating fable, for they, too, ornament themselves with tails; and as they stride along they swing these about in conscious emulation of the flocks and herds. Schweinfurth likens them to “dancing baboons.”
Other African satyr stories do not yield their secret so easily. The Ba-Kwambas of the northwest, report said, had tails which they inserted in holes in the ground when they sat down. In his Travels and Adventures (1861) Doctor Wolf asserted that in Abyssinia were men and women “with tails like dogs and horses,” some of these so large that they were able to knock down a horse with them. About the Niam-Niams, a cannibal people with filed teeth that live in French Equatorial Africa, legends have multiplied, and these Baring Gould has assembled.
Horneman was the first to describe them as tailed anthropophagi. In 1849 M. Descouret reported that this was the common belief among the Arabs. In 1851 M. de Castelnau told of a Houssa expedition in which a band of Niam-Niams was slaughtered to a man. All, including the women, had hairless tails about fifteen inches long. These people were otherwise a handsome race, of a deep black, using clubs and javelins in war, and in peace cultivating rice, maize, and other grains. An Abyssinian priest, seemingly speaking of the same tribe, told M. d'Abbadie in 1852 that only the men had tails, and these were covered with hair and the length of a palm. Doctor Hubsch, physician to the hospitals of Constantinople, examined in 1852 a tailed negress of the Niam-Niams who was offered for sale in the slave market. She was black as ebony, with frizzled hair, bloodshot eyes, large white teeth, and a smooth, hairless, pointed tail two inches long. Her clothes fidgeted her, she ate meat raw, and was an avowed cannibal. The slave dealer said all her tribe was as herself.
In Cuba Columbus heard of a province called Mangou, lying farther west, and it sounded like Mangi, the rich maritime province of the Grand Khan. Its inhabitants had tails, and wore garments to conceal them. Columbus recalled the Maundeville story, related above, of the scorn of certain naked Asiatics for clothing, and their belief that garments hid bodily defects. So he pressed onward in the thought that Mangi and the robed peoples of Tartary lay just below the horizon.
Despite witness from Asia, Africa, and the eastern and western Indies, there are no tailed races of men. But there have been tailed individuals. Hottentot women come nearest meeting the requirements of legend. Without a tail, they yet have a development of the posteriors that amounts to a natural shelf, on which, as on a pillion, their infants may ride. The mandril and certain other monkeys living in the same latitudes show a like enlargement.
Chapter XI. The Pygmies
It was left to the pygmy to revenge all of the creatures of fable upon incredulous mankind. He was doubted, yet he is. Not until some fifty years ago would the learned doubters admit that Homer and Herodotus were right, and themselves wrong. Now it is in the books that half a hundred groups of pygmies are living on the earth, to say nothing of others that have become extinct. Every race has had such groups, and every continent has known their tread.
There is palliation for ancient and modern doubts as to these dwarfish nations. The pygmies of reality are not so small as the pygmies of tradition. Their name is from the Greek word for fist, or the distance between the elbow joint and the knuckles of the average man-a little more than thirteen inches. The ancient geographers, however, allowed the smallest pygmies at least double that stature. There were two species of little men -the one averaging three spans, or two feet three inches high, the other averaging five spans, or three feet nine inches. These measurements recur again and again for fifteen centuries in the writings of the east and west.
No race has a mean stature as short even as the pygmies of five spans, but among the dwarf tribes there are many women who do not greatly exceed it; and there are women, not so small according to the standards of their brothers as to be accounted deformed, who do not equal it. Stanley saw among the Akkas of the West African Rain Forest a grown girl of seventeen who was half an inch short of three feet.
Poetic license of the old time took liberties with the estimates of geographers, but these liberties were understood as such. The dwarf nation on the Upper Nile that was reputed to war with the cranes used the ax, it was said, to cut down ears of wheat. When Hercules passed through their country they set up ladders to climb to the rim of his goblet for a drink. In his slumber two armies swooped down upon his right hand and two on his left; but, awaking, the hero laughingly gathered them all in his lion skin.
The myth of their warfare with the cranes became a theme of literature and art, but cast doubt over the whole pygmy tradition. It first appears in Homer. The Iliad likens the shouts of the onrushing Trojans to the cries of cranes as they fly southward "with noise and order through the sky,” bringing "wounds and death to pygmy nations.” Megasthenes elaborates the theme. It is the three-span pygmies, he says, that war upon the cranes, as well as on the partridges, which are as large as geese. The small folk collect and destroy the eggs of the cranes, which breed in India and nowhere else. Pliny adds that every spring the little men go in a body to the seashore, astride of rams and goats, and there destroy the eggs and young of the birds; "otherwise, it would be impossible for them to withstand the increasing multitude of the cranes.” The shore booths which they occupy they build of mud mixed with feathers and egg shells.
So the story moves from Africa to India, and towards modern times. Maundeville declares that in the Land of Pygmies, which he seems to place to the west of, and tributary to, China, the inhabitants “have oftentimes war with the Birds of that Country that they take and eat.” There is even a reference to this warfare in the writing (1563) of a traveler in Greenland. There Dithmar Blefkens of Hamburg met a blind monk who said that the pygmies represented the most perfect shape of man, but were “hairy to the uttermost Joynts of the Fingers,” had no proper speech, and were "unreasonable Creatures that live in Perpetual Darkness."
India appears to be the home of the tradition that the dwarfish peoples warred with the cranes. Just a hint of its origin is afforded by Ctesias. The “swarthy men called Pygmies," he said, “hunt hares and foxes not with dogs, but with ravens and kites and crows and vultures.” Falconry is known to have been practiced in India as early as B.C. 600 and may be a thousand years older there. From a people's using birds of prey in hunting to themselves fighting against birds of prey is a step of inference easy to take.
There is, however, a more direct explanation. According to