chapter  1
10 Pages

Introduction

Among hairy, bipedal humanlike creatures reputed to exist in remote places, most people will have heard of the Himalayan ‘yeti’ and the North American ‘sasquatch’ (or ‘bigfoot’). Far less well known is the occurrence of such images-‘wildmen’ according to a definition I articulate below-in many of the world’s cultures. Rather than colonialist distortions as some historians have supposed, or figures constructed from European travellers’ tales (Dudley and Novak 1972; Gouda 1995), even the better-known figures have their origins in representations maintained by members of small-scale, non-western societies. Non-western folk, moreover, frequently describe the creatures prosaically, in much the same way as they describe animals known to western science.