The Blemmyes were a race of monstrous creatures that were believed to have their faces located on their torsos. Having no head, these monsters were especially scary to encounter at night because it was easy to mistake them as a headless figure or ghost. Headless races are nothing new to the modern reader. Who can forget the headless Hessian Trooper from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Washington Irving tells the story of a frightening monster that cannot rest in his grave. Yet, as Mandeville showed us, headless races were around long before the quiet, little town of Sleepy Hollow.
One of ancient Egypt’s earliest gods, Seth, was the god of chaos, confusion, storms, wind, the desert and foreign lands. He is often identified with the headless demon Akephalos. Akephalos was an ancient Greek figure whose eyes were placed in his shoulders and who people considered a very negative omen. He was apart of the spirits of the dead, or the ‘ultimately deceased.’ These spirits are especially evil and disfigured because of circumstances surrounding their death were especially violent.
An old Japanese legend tells the story of Tenome, an old man that was beaten up and murdered by a mugger. Tenome returned as a ghost, however, his need for revenge was so great that his eyes now grew out of his hands. Never having seen his attacker, and being blinded by his rage, Tenome now kills whoever he can get his eyes/hands on.Eventually Tenome becomes the Pale Man, the terrifying character from Pan’s Labyrinth
Although nobody is still in fear of the Akaphalos or believes the Blemmye continue to walk the Earth, their concept has continued through modern culture, evolving just slightly along the way. Adding hair to the monstrous body and giving it winged appendages creates the entity that was widely publicized in the media when it was seen in West Virginia. The Mothman, a legend still claimed by some people as truth.