Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Monstrous races

In Medieval texts, it is interesting to see the types of people that are seen in the exotic locations of the East. Every story that we have read has crazy mythological creatures that seem pretty unrealistic. So what is it about these places that made travelers write about these strange beings in such a way? Whatever the reason, they sure are dramatic creations that catch your attention,

Two striking creatures that caught my attention in the Travels of Sir John Mandeville are the Blemmyes and the Sciapods.

Blemmyes: or headless men are described as peaceful people and at other times are described as cannibals living in the East Desert near Meroe. The Blemmyes occupy modern day Sudan. They are depicted as men and women with a mouth in their chest and eyes in their shoulders. Some authors claim that their heads were hidden between their shoulders. Perhaps the women are the Blemmyes with the faces on their backs since their are no boobs that would interfere with sight.

They are seen as grotesque creatures with no head, which also implies that they have no brain? Did they just walk around aimlessly, or could they communicate?

One explanation for these medieval creatures was that they began as normal humans who had somehow managed to raise their shoulders to surprising heights. Other authors such as Bruce Sterling who wrote a short story on Blemmyes, states that they are aliens living on earth during the time of the crusades. The Blemmyes are also known as anthropophagus which is derived from the Greek word anthropophagos “people-eater” They are often depicted as naked creatures that bear a sword and a shield.  These creatures have been used throughout fiction as mythical creatures that roam the land. Perhaps it was something about the way they dressed that made European travelers think that their heads were in their chests….? Whatever the case is, these creatures have appeared in more than one medieval text. 

In an episode of Spongebob, Patrick becomes a Blemmye. This video is then followed by another video that shows a ton of Blemmyes that "Can't even" 

The second mythological creature that is important to take note of are the Sciapods. These creatures are also of a humanoid monstrous creation. These creatures however, have a face in the proper place, but instead of having two legs; they only have one large leg and foot. The Sciapods have been seen in India. The large foot is important because if it was not large, they would be unable to support the weight of themselves. This name derived from the Greek word okiattooec“shadow feet” or monopod “one legged’.  Sciapods, Centars, and Blemmyes are further used in movies such as Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion the witch, and the wardrobe.

Despite only having one leg, these babies could hop around at an impressive rate, which may also explain why the foot is so large.They lived off the perfume of the fruits that they carried with them, and if the fruits were to die, so would they. When it rains, they lie on the ground with their foots above their heads for protection. 

In The Chronicles of Narnia, Sciapods are called "Dufflepuds" 

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting after learning about the Pygmies today being able to see how the Dufflepudds actually form together. Could you imagine if these different monstrous races were to go to war against each other? Or if they decided to team up against the human's that kept trying to kill them? Except the Pygmies who unfortunately kept dying by cranes, I mean if they had reached out to the sciapods maybe more of them would have survived? Do you think one type of monstrous race would survive longer than another? For some reason I just keep picturing the hunger games featuring all these different races. :)