A Philological Essay Concerning the Pygmies of the Ancients by Edward Tyson

Distributed Proofreaders A PHILOLOGICAL ESSAY CONCERNING THE PYGMIES OF THE ANCIENTS By EDWARD TYSON Now Edited, with an Introduction by Bertram C. A. Windle TO MY DEAR MOTHER PREFATORY NOTE It is only necessary for me to state here, what I have mentioned in the Introduction, that my account of the habits of the Pigmy
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Now Edited, with an Introduction by Bertram C. A. Windle



It is only necessary for me to state here, what I have mentioned in the Introduction, that my account of the habits of the Pigmy races of legend and myth makes no pretence of being in any sense a complete or exhaustive account of the literature of this subject. I have contented myself with bringing forward such tales as seemed of value for the purpose of establishing the points upon which I desire to lay emphasis.

I have elsewhere expressed my obligations to M. De Quatrefage’s book on Pigmies, obligations which will be at once recognised by those familiar with that monograph. To his observations I have endeavoured to add such other published facts as I have been able to gather in relation to these peoples.

I have to thank Professors Sir William Turner, Haddon, Schlegel, Brinton, and Topinard for their kindness in supplying me with information in response to my inquiries on several points.

Finally, I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to Professor Alexander Macalister, President of the Anthropological Institute, and to Mr. E. Sidney Hartland, for their kindness in reading through, the former the first two sections, and the latter the last two sections of the Introduction, and for the valuable suggestions which both have made. These gentlemen have laid me under obligations which I can acknowledge, but cannot repay.






Edward Tyson, the author of the Essay with which this book is concerned, was, on the authority of Monk’s Roll of the Royal College of Physicians, born, according to some accounts, at Bristol, according to others, at Clevedon, co. Somerset, but was descended from a family which had long settled in Cumberland. He was educated at Magdalene Hall, Oxford, as a member of which he proceeded Bachelor of Arts on the 8th of February 1670, and Master of Arts on the 4th of November 1673. His degree of Doctor of Medicine he took at Cambridge in 1678 as a member of Corpus Christi College. Dr. Tyson was admitted a candidate of the College of Physicians on the 30th of September 1680, and a Fellow in April 1683. He was Censor of the College in 1694, and held the appointments of Physician to the Hospitals of Bridewell and Bethlem, and of Anatomical Reader at Surgeons’ Hall. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society, and contributed several papers to the “Philosophical Transactions.” Besides a number of anatomical works, he published in 1699 “A Philosophical Essay concerning the Rhymes of the Ancients,” and in the same year the work by which his name is still known, in which the Philological Essay which is here reprinted finds a place. Tyson died on the 1st of August 1708, in the fifty-eighth year of his age, and is buried at St. Dionis Backchurch. He was the original of the Carus not very flatteringly described in Garth’s “Dispensary.”

The title-page of the work above alluded to runs as follows:–

_Orang-Outang, sive Homo Sylvestris_:


Compared with that of a _Monkey_, an _Ape_, and a _Man_.

To which is added, A PHILOLOGICAL ESSAY Concerning the _Pygmies_, the _Cynocephali_, the _Satyrs_, and _Sphinges_ of the ANCIENTS.

Wherein it will appear that they are all either _APES_ or _MONKEYS_, and not _MEN_, as formerly pretended.


Fellow of the Colledge of Physicians, and the Royal Society: Physician to the Hospital of _Bethlem_, and Reader of Anatomy at _Chirurgeons-Hall_.


Printed for _Thomas Bennet_ at the _Half-Moon in St. Paul’s_ Church-yard; and _Daniel Brown_ at the _Black Swan_ and _Bible_ without _Temple-Bar_ and are to be had of Mr. _Hunt_ at the _Repository_ in _Gresham-Colledge_. M DC XCIX.

It bears the authority of the Royal Society:–

17 deg. _Die Maij_, 1699.

Imprimatur Liber cui Titulus, _Orang-Outang, sive Homo Sylvestris,_ &c. Authore _Edvardo Tyson_, M.D. R.S.S.


The Pygmy described in this work was, as a matter of fact, a chimpanzee, and its skeleton is at this present moment in the Natural History Museum at South Kensington. Tyson’s granddaughter married a Dr. Allardyce, who was a physician of good standing in Cheltenham. The “Pygmie” formed a somewhat remarkable item of her dowry. Her husband presented it to the Cheltenham Museum, where it was fortunately carefully preserved until, quite recently, it was transferred to its present position.

At the conclusion of the purely scientific part of the work the author added four Philological Essays, as will have appeared from his title-page. The first of these is both the longest and the most interesting, and has alone been selected for republication in this volume.

This is not the place to deal with the scientific merit of the main body of Tyson’s work, but it may at least be said that it was the first attempt which had been made to deal with the anatomy of any of the anthropoid apes, and that its execution shows very conspicuous ability on the part of its author.

Tyson, however, was not satisfied with the honour of being the author of an important morphological work; he desired to round off his subject by considering its bearing upon the, to him, wild and fabulous tales concerning pigmy races. The various allusions to these races met with in the pages of the older writers, and discussed in his, were to him what fairy tales are to us. Like modern folk-lorists, he wished to explain, even to euhemerise them, and bring them into line with the science of his day. Hence the “Philological Essay” with which this book is concerned. There are no pigmy races, he says; “the most diligent enquiries of late into all the parts of the inhabited world could never discover any such puny diminutive race of mankind.” But there are tales about them, “fables and wonderful and merry relations, that are transmitted down to us concerning them,” which surely require explanation. That explanation he found in his theory that all the accounts of pigmy tribes were based upon the mistakes of travellers who had taken apes for men. Nor was he without followers in his opinion; amongst whom here need only be mentioned Buffon, who in his _Histoire des Oiseaux_ explains the Homeric tale much as Tyson had done. The discoveries, however, of this century have, as all know, re-established in their essential details the accounts of the older writers, and in doing so have demolished the theories of Tyson and Buffon. We now know, not merely that there are pigmy races in existence, but that the area which they occupy is an extensive one, and in the remote past has without doubt been more extensive still. Moreover, certain of these races have been, at least tentatively, identified with the pigmy tribes of Pliny, Herodotus, Aristotle, and other writers. It will be well, before considering this question, and before entering into any consideration of the legends and myths which may possibly be associated with dwarf races, to sketch briefly their distribution throughout the continents of the globe. It is necessary to keep clearly in view the upper limit which can justly be assigned to dwarfishness, and with this object it may be advisable to commence with a statement as to the average heights reached by various representative peoples. According to Topinard, the races of the world may be classified, in respect to their stature, in the following manner:–

Tall 5 ft. 8 in. and upwards. Above the average 5 ft. 6 in. to 5 ft. 8 in. Below the average 5 ft. 4 in. to 5 ft. 6 in. Short Below 5 ft. 4 in.

Thus amongst ordinary peoples there is no very striking difference of height, so far as the average is concerned. It would, however, be a great mistake to suppose that all races reaching a lower average height than five feet four inches are, in any accurate sense of the word, to be looked upon as pigmies. We have to descend to a considerably lower figure before that appellation can be correctly employed. The stature must fall considerably below five feet before we can speak of the race as one of dwarfs or pigmies. Anthropometrical authorities have not as yet agreed upon any upward limit for such a class, but for our present purposes it may be convenient to say that any race in which the average male stature does not exceed four feet nine inches–that is, the average height of a boy of about twelve years of age–may fairly be described as pigmy. It is most important to bear this matter of inches in mind in connection with points which will have to be considered in a later section.

Pigmy races still exist in considerable numbers in Asia and the adjacent islands, and as it was in that continent that, so far as our present knowledge goes, they had in former days their greatest extension, and, if De Quatrefages be correct, their place of origin, it will be well to deal first with the tribes of that quarter of the globe. “The Negrito” (_i.e._, pigmy black) “type,” says the authority whom I have just quoted, and to whom I shall have to be still further indebted,[A] “was first placed in South Asia, which it without doubt occupied alone during an indeterminate period. It is thence that its diverse representatives have radiated, and, some going east, some west, have given rise to the black populations of Melanesia and Africa. In particular, India and Indo-China first belonged to the blacks. Invasions and infiltrations of different yellow or white races have split up these Negrito populations, which formerly occupied a continuous area, and mixing with them, have profoundly altered them. The present condition of things is the final result of strifes and mixtures, the most ancient of which may be referred back to prehistoric times.” The invasions above mentioned having in the past driven many of the races from the mainland to the islands, and those which remained on the continent having undergone greater modification by crossing with taller and alien races, we may expect to find the purest Negritos amongst the tribes inhabiting the various archipelagoes situated south and east of the mainland. Amongst these, the Mincopies of the Andaman Islands offer a convenient starting-point. The knowledge which we possess of these little blacks is extensive, thanks to the labours in particular of Mr. Man[B] and Dr. Dobson,[C] which may be found in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute, and summarised in De Quatrefages’ work. The average stature of the males of this race is four feet six inches, the height of a boy of ten years of age. Like children, the head is relatively large in comparison with the stature, since it is contained seven times therein, instead of seven and a half times, as is the rule amongst most average-sized peoples. Whilst speaking of the head, it may be well to mention that these Negritos, and in greater or less measure other Negritos and Negrillos (_i.e._, pigmy blacks, Asiatic or African), differ in this part of the body in a most important respect from the ordinary African negro. Like him, they are black, often intensely so: like him, too, they have woolly hair arranged in tufts, but, unlike him, they have round (brachycephalic) heads instead of long (dolichocephalic); and the purer the race, the more marked is this distinction. The Mincopie has a singularly short life; for though he attains puberty at much the same age as ourselves, the twenty-second year brings him to middle life, and the fiftieth, if reached, is a period of extreme senility. Pure in race, ancient in history, and carefully studied, this race deserves some further attention here than can be extended to others with which I have to deal. The moral side of the Mincopies seems to be highly developed; the modesty of the young girls is most strict; monogamy is the rule, and–

“Their list of forbidden degrees
An extensive morality shows,”

since even the marriage of cousins-german is considered highly immoral. “Men and women,” says Man, “are models of constancy.” They believe in a Supreme Deity, respecting whom they say, that “although He resembles fire, He is invisible; that He was never born, and is immortal; that He created the world and all animate and inanimate objects, save only the powers of evil. During the day He knows everything, even the thoughts of the mind; He is angry when certain sins are committed, and full of pity for the unfortunate and miserable, whom He sometimes condescends to assist. He judges souls after death, and pronounces on each a sentence which sends them to paradise or condemns them to a kind of purgatory. The hope of escaping the torments of this latter place influences their conduct. Puluga, this Deity, inhabits a house of stone; when it rains, He descends upon the earth in search of food; during the dry weather He is asleep.” Besides this Deity, they believe in numerous evil spirits, the chief of whom is the Demon of the Woods. These spirits have created themselves, and have existed _ab immemorabili_. The sun, which is a female, and the moon, her husband, are secondary deities.

[Footnote A: The quotations from this author are taken from his work _Les Pygmees_. Paris, J.B. Bailliere et Fils, 1887.]

[Footnote B: _Jour. Anthrop. Inst_., vii.]

[Footnote C: _Ibid_., iv.]

South of the Andaman Islands are the Nicobars, the aborigines of which, the Shom Pen,[A] now inhabit the mountains, where, like so many of their brethren, they have been driven by the Malays. They are of small, but not pigmy stature (five feet two inches), a fact which may be due to crossing.

[Footnote A: Man, _Jour. Anthrop. Inst._, xviii. p. 354.]

Following the Negritos east amongst the islands, we find in Luzon the Aetas or Inagtas, a group of which is known in Mindanao as Manamouas. The Aetas live side by side with the Tagals, who are of Malay origin. They were called Negritos del Monte by the Spaniards who first colonised these islands. Their average stature, according to Wallace, ranges from four feet six inches to four feet eight inches. In New Guinea, the Karons, a similar race, occupy a chain of mountains parallel to the north coast of the great north-western peninsula. At Port Moresby, in the same island, the Koiari appear to represent the most south-easterly group; but my friend Professor Haddon, who has investigated this district, tells me that he finds traces of a former existence of Negritos at Torres Straits and in North Queensland, as shown by the shape of the skulls of the inhabitants of these regions.

The Malay Peninsula contains in Perak hill tribes called “savages” by the Sakays. These tribes have not been seen by Europeans, but are stated to be pigmy in stature, troglodytic, and still in the Stone Age. Farther south are the Semangs of Kedah, with an average stature of four feet ten inches, and the Jakuns of Singapore, rising to five feet. The Annamites admit that they are not autochthonous, a distinction which they confer upon the Mois, of whom little is known, but whose existence and pigmy Negrito characteristics are considered by De Quatrefages as established.

China no longer, so far as we know, contains any representatives of this type, but Professor Lacouperie[A] has recently shown that they formerly existed in that part of Asia. According to the annals of the Bamboo Books, “In the twenty-ninth year of the Emperor Yao, in spring, the chief of the Tsiao-Yao, or dark pigmies, came to court and offered as tribute feathers from the Mot.” The Professor continues, “As shown by this entry, we begin with the semi-historic times as recorded in the ‘Annals of the Bamboo Books,’ and the date about 2048 B.C. The so-called feathers were simply some sort of marine plant or seaweed with which the immigrant Chinese, still an inland people, were yet unacquainted. The Mot water or river, says the Shan-hai-king, or canonical book of hills and seas, was situated in the south-east of the Tai-shan in Shan-tung. This gives a clue to the localisation of the pigmies, and this localisation agrees with the positive knowledge we possess of the small area which the Chinese dominion covered at this time. Thus the Negritos were part of the native population of China when, in the twenty-third century B.C., the civilised Bak tribes came into the land.” In Japan we have also evidence of their existence. This country, now inhabited by the Niphonians, or Japanese, as we have come to call them, was previously the home of the Ainu, a white, hairy under-sized race, possibly, even probably, emigrants from Europe, and now gradually dying out in Yezo and the Kurile Islands. Prior to the Ainu was a Negrito race, whose connection with the former is a matter of much dispute, whose remains in the shape of pit-dwellings, stone arrow-heads, pottery, and other implements still exist, and will be found fully described by Mr. Savage Landor in a recent most interesting work.[B] In the Shan-hai-king, as Professor Schlegel[C] points out, their country is spoken of as the Siao-jin-Kouo, or land of little men, in distinction, be it noted, to the Peh-min-Kouo, or land of white people, identified by him with the Ainu. These little men are spoken of by the Ainu as Koro-puk-guru, _i.e._, according to Milne, men occupying excavations, or pit-dwellers. According to Chamberlain, the name means dwellers under burdocks, and is associated with the following legend. Before the time of the Ainu, Yezo was inhabited by a race of dwarfs, said by some to be two to three feet, by others only one inch in height. When an enemy approached, they hid themselves under the great leaves of the burdock (_koro_), for which reason they are called Koro-puk-guru, i.e., the men under the burdocks. When they were exterminated by the wooden clubs of the Ainu, they raised their eyes to heaven, and, weeping, cried aloud to the gods, “Why were we made so small?” It should be said that Professor Schlegel and Mr. Savage Landor both seem to prefer the former etymology.

[Footnote A: Babylonian and Oriental Record, vol. v.]

[Footnote B: Alone with the Hairy Ainu.]

[Footnote C: _Problemes Geographiques. Les Peuples Etrangers chez les Historiens Chinois_. Extrait du T’oung-pao, vol. _iv_. No. 4. Leide, E.J. Brill.]

Passing to the north-west of the Andamans, we find in India a problem of considerable difficulty. That there were at one period numerous Negrito tribes inhabiting that part of Asia is indubitable; that some of them persist to this day in a state of approximate purity is no less true, but the influence of crossing has here been most potent. Races of lighter hue and taller stature have invaded the territory of the Negritos, to a certain extent intermarried with them, and thus have originated the various Dravidian tribes. These tribes, therefore, afford us a valuable clue as to the position occupied in former days by their ancestors, the Negritos.

In some of the early Indian legends, De Quatrefages thinks that he finds traces of these prehistoric connections between the indigenous Negrito tribes and their invaders. The account of the services rendered to Rama by Hanuman and his monkey-people may, he thinks, easily be explained by supposing the latter to be a Negrito tribe. Another tale points to unions of a closer nature between the alien races. Bhimasena, after having conquered and slain Hidimba, at first resisted the solicitations of the sister of this monster, who, having become enamoured of him, presented herself under the guise of a lovely woman. But at the wish of his elder brother, Youdhichshira, the king of justice, and with the consent of his mother, he yielded, and passed some time in the dwelling of this Negrito or Dravidian Armida.

It will now be necessary to consider some of these races more or less crossed with alien blood.

In the centre of India, amongst the Vindyah Mountains, live the Djangals or Bandra-Lokhs, the latter name signifying man-monkey, and thus associating itself with the tale of Rama, above alluded to. Like most of the Dravidian tribes, they live in great misery, and show every sign of their condition in their attenuated figures. One of this tribe measured by Rousselet was five feet in height. It may here be remarked that the stature of the Dravidian races exceeds that of the purer Negritos, a fact due, no doubt, to the influence of crossing. Farther south, in the Nilgherry Hills, and in the neighbourhood of the Todas and Badagas, dwell the Kurumbas. and Irulas (children of darkness). Both are weak and dwarfish, the latter especially so. They inhabit, says Walhouse,[A] the most secluded, densely wooded fastnesses of the mountain slopes. They are by popular tradition connected with the aboriginal builders of the rude stone monuments of the district, though, according to the above-mentioned authority, without any claim to such distinction. They, however, worship at these cromlechs from time to time, and are associated with them in another interesting manner. “The Kurumbas of Nulli,” says Walhouse, “one of the wildest Nilgherry declivities, come up annually to worship at one of the dolmens on the table-land above, in which they say one of their old gods resides. Though they are regarded with fear and hatred as sorcerers by the agricultural B[)a]d[)a]gas of the table-land, one of them must, nevertheless, at sowing-time be called to guide the first plough for two or three yards, and go through a mystic pantomime of propitiation to the earth deity, without which the crop would certainly fail. When so summoned, the Kurumba must pass the night by the dolmens alone, and I have seen one who had been called from his present dwelling for the morning ceremony, sitting after dark on the capstone of a dolmen, with heels and hams drawn together and chin on knees, looking like some huge ghostly fowl perched on the mysterious stone.” Mr. Gomme has drawn attention to this and other similar customs in the interesting remarks which he makes upon the influence of conquered non-Aryan races upon their Aryan subduers.[B]

[Footnote A: _Jour. Anthrop. Inst._, vii. 21.]

[Footnote B: Ethnology and Folk-Lore, p. 46; The Village Community, p. 105.]

Farther south, in Ceylon, the Veddahs live, whom Bailey[A] considers to be identical with the hill-tribes of the mainland, though, if this be true, some at least must have undergone a large amount of crossing, judging from the wavy nature of their hair. The author just quoted says, “The tallest Veddah I ever saw, a man so towering above his fellows that, till I measured him, I believed him to be not merely comparatively a tall man, was only five feet three inches in height. The shortest man I have measured was four feet one inch. I should say that of males the ordinary height is from four feet six inches to five feet one inch, and of females from four feet four inches to four feet eight inches.”

[Footnote A: _Trans. Ethn. Soc._, ii. 278.]

In the east the Santals inhabit the basin of the Ganges, and in the west the Jats belong to the Punjab, and especially to the district of the Indus. The Kols inhabit the delta of the Indus and the neighbourhood of Gujerat, and stretch almost across Central India into Behar and the eastern extremities of the Vindhya Mountains. Other Dravidian tribes are the Oraons, Jouangs, Buihers, and Gounds. All these races have a stature of about five feet, and, though much crossed, present more or less marked Negrito characteristics. Passing farther west, the Brahouis of Beluchistan, a Dravidian race, who regard themselves as the aboriginal inhabitants, live side by side with the Belutchis. Finally, in this direction, there seem to have been near Lake Zerrah, in Persia, Negrito tribes who are probably aboriginal, and may have formed the historic black guard of the ancient kings of Susiana.

An examination of the present localisation of these remnants of the Negrito inhabitants shows how they have been split up, amalgamated with, or driven to the islands by the conquering invaders. An example of what has taken place may be found in the case of Borneo, where Negritos still exist in the centre of the island. The Dyaks chase them like wild beasts, and shoot down the children, who take refuge in the trees. This will not seem in the least surprising to those who have studied the history of the relation between autochthonous races and their invaders. It is the same story that has been told of the Anglo-Saxon race in its dealings with aborigines in America, and notably, in our case, in Tasmania.

Turning from Asia to a continent more closely associated, at least in popular estimation, with pigmy races, we find in Africa several races of dwarf men, of great antiquity and surpassing interest. The discoveries of Stanley, Schweinfurth, Miani, and others have now placed at our disposal very complete information respecting the pigmies of the central part of the continent, with whom it will, therefore, be convenient to make a commencement. These pigmies appear to be divided into two tribes, which, though similar in stature, and alike distinguished by the characteristic of attaching themselves to some larger race of natives, yet present considerable points of difference, so much so as to cause Mr. Stanley to say that they are as unlike as a Scandinavian is to a Turk. “Scattered,” says the same authority,[A] “among the Balesse, between Ipoto and Mount Pisgah, and inhabiting the land between the Ngaiyu and Ituri rivers, a region equal in area to about two-thirds of Scotland, are the Wambutti, variously called Batwa, Akka, and Bazungu. These people are under-sized nomads, dwarfs or pigmies, who live in the uncleared virgin forest, and support themselves on game, which they are very expert in catching. They vary in height from three feet to four feet six inches. A full-grown adult may weigh ninety pounds. They plant their village camps three miles around a tribe of agricultural aborigines, the majority of whom are fine stalwart people. They use poisoned arrows, with which they kill elephants, and they capture other kinds of game by the use of traps.”

[Footnote A: In Darkest Africa, vol. ii. p. 92.]

The two groups are respectively called Batwa and Wambutti. The former inhabit the northern parts of the above-mentioned district, the latter the southern. The former have longish heads, long narrow faces, and small reddish eyes set close together, whilst the latter have round faces and open foreheads, gazelle-like eyes, set far apart, and rich yellow ivory complexion. Their bodies are covered with stiffish grey short hair. Two further quotations from the same source may be given to convey an idea to those ignorant of the original work, if such there be, of the appearances of these dwarfs. Speaking of the queen of a tribe of pigmies, Stanley says,[A] “She was brought in to see me, with three rings of polished iron around her neck, the ends of which were coiled like a watch-spring. Three iron rings were suspended to each ear. She is of a light-brown complexion with broad round face, large eyes, and small but full lips. She had a quiet modest demeanour, though her dress was but a narrow fork clout of bark cloth. Her height is about four feet four inches, and her age may be nineteen or twenty. I notice when her arms are held against the light a whity-brown fell on them. Her skin has not that silky smoothness of touch common to the Zanzibaris, but altogether she is a very pleasing little creature.” To this female portrait may be subjoined one of a male aged probably twenty-one years and four feet in height.[B] “His colour was coppery, the fell over the body was almost furry, being nearly half an inch long, and his hands were very delicate. On his head he wore a bonnet of a priestly form, decorated with a bunch of parrot feathers, and a broad strip of bark covered his nakedness.”

[Footnote A: In Darkest Africa, vol. i. p. 345.]

[Footnote B: Ibid., ii. 40.]

Jephson states[A] that he found continual traces of them from 270 30′ E. long., a few miles above the Equator, up to the edge of the great forest, five days’ march from Lake Albert. He also says that they are a hardy daring race, always ready for war, and are much feared by their neighbours. As soon as a party of dwarfs makes its appearance near a village, the chief hastens to propitiate them by presents of corn and such vegetables as he possesses. They never exceed four feet one inch in height, he informs us, and adds a characteristic which has not been mentioned by Stanley, one, too, which is very remarkable when it is remembered how scanty is the facial hair of the Negros and Negritos–the men have often very long beards. The southern parts of the continent are occupied by the Bushmen, who are vigorous and agile, of a stature ranging from four feet six inches to four feet nine inches, and sufficiently well known to permit me to pass over them without further description. The smallest woman of this race who has been measured was only three feet three inches in height, and Barrow examined one, who was the mother of several children, with a stature of three feet eight inches. The Akoas of the Gaboon district were a race of pigmies who, now apparently extinct, formerly dwelt on the north of the Nazareth River. A male of this tribe was photographed and measured by the French Admiral Fleuriot de l’Angle. His age was about forty and his stature four feet six inches.

[Footnote A: Emm Pasha, p. 367, et seq.]

Flower[A] says that “another tribe, the M’Boulous, inhabiting the coast north of the Gaboon River, have been described by M. Marche as probably the primitive race of the country. They live in little villages, keeping entirely to themselves, though surrounded by the larger Negro tribes, M’Pongos and Bakalais, who are encroaching upon them so closely that their numbers are rapidly diminishing. In 1860 they were not more than 3000; in 1879 they were much less numerous. They are of an earthy-brown colour, and rarely exceed five feet three inches in height. Another group living between the Gaboon and the Congo, in Ashangoland, a male of which measured four feet six inches, has been described by Du Chaillu.”

In Loango there is a tribe called Babonko, which was described by Battell in 1625, in the work entitled “Purchas his Pilgrimes,” in the following terms:–“To the north-east of Mani-Kesock are a kind of little people called Matimbas; which are no bigger than boyes of twelve yeares old, but very thicke, and live only upon flesh, which they kill in the woods with their bows and darts. They pay tribute to Mani-Kesock, and bring all their elephants’ teeth and tayles to him. They will not enter into any of the Maramba’s houses, nor will suffer any one to come where they dwell. And if by chance any Maramba or people of Longo pass where they dwell, they will forsake that place and go to another. The women carry bows and arrows as well as the men. And one of these will walk in the woods alone and kill the Pongos with their poysoned arrows.” It is somewhat surprising that Tyson, who gives in his essay (p. 80) the account of the same people published at a later date (1686) by Dapper, should have missed his fellow-countryman’s narrative. The existence of this tribe has been established by a German expedition, one of the members of which, Dr. Falkenstein, photographed and measured an adult male whose stature was four feet six inches.

Krapf[A] states that in the south of Schoa, in a part of Abyssinia as yet unworked, the Dokos live, who are not taller than four feet. According to his account, they are of a dark olive colour, with thick prominent lips, flat noses, small eyes, and long flowing hair. They have no dwellings, temples, holy trees, chiefs, or weapons, live on roots and fruit, and are ignorant of fire. Another group was described by Mollieu in 1818 as inhabiting Tenda-Maie, near the Rio Grande, but very little is known about them. In a work entitled “The Dwarfs of Mount Atlas,” Halliburton[B] has brought forward a number of statements to prove that a tribe of dwarfs, named like those of Central Africa, Akkas, of a reddish complexion and with short woolly hair, live in the district adjoining Soos. These dwarfs have been alluded to by Harris and Doennenburg,[C] but Mr. Harold Crichton Browne,[D] who has explored neighbouring districts, is of opinion that there is no such tribe, and that the accounts of them have been based upon the examination of sporadic examples of dwarfishness met with in that as in other parts of the world.

[Footnote A: _Morgenblatt_, 1853 (quoted by Schaafhausen, _Arch. f. Anth._, 1866, p. 166).]

[Footnote B: London, Nutt, 1891.]

[Footnote C: _Nature_, 1892, ii. 616.]

[Footnote A: _Nature_, 1892, i. 269.]

Finally, in Madagascar it is possible that there may be a dwarf race. Oliver[A] states that “the Vazimbas are supposed to have been the first occupants of Ankova. They are described by Rochon, under the name of Kunios, as a nation of dwarfs averaging three feet six inches in stature, of a lighter colour than the Negroes, with very long arms and woolly hair. As they were only described by natives of the coast, and have never been seen, it is natural to suppose that these peculiarities have been exaggerated; but it is stated that people of diminutive size still exist on the banks of a certain river to the south-west.” There are many tumuli of rude work and made of rough stones throughout the country, which are supposed to be their tombs. In idolatrous days, says Mullens,[B] the Malagasy deified the Vazimba, and their so-called tombs were the most sacred objects in the country. In this account may be found further evidence in favour of Mr. Gomme’s theory, to which attention has already been called.

[Footnote A: _Anthrop. Memoirs_, iii. 1.]

[Footnote B: _Jour. Anthrop. Inst._, v. 181.]

In the great continent of America there does not appear to have ever been, so far as our present knowledge teaches, any pigmy race. Dr. Brinton, the distinguished American ethnologist, to whom I applied for information on this point, has been good enough to write to me that, in his opinion, there is no evidence of any pigmy race in America. The “little people” of the “stone graves” in Tennessee, often supposed to be such, were children, as the bones testify. The German explorer Hassler has alleged the existence of a pigmy race in Brazil, but testimony is wanting to support such allegation. There are two tribes of very short but not pigmy stature in America, the Yahgans of Tierra del Fuego and the Utes of Colorado, but both of these average over five feet.

Leaving aside for the moment the Lapps, to whom I shall return, there does not appear to have been at any time a really pigmy race in Europe, so far as any discoveries which have been made up to the present time show. Professor Topinard, whose authority upon this point cannot be gainsaid, informs me that the smallest race known to him in Central Europe is that of the pre-historic people of the Lozere, who were Neolithic troglodytes, and are represented probably at the present day by some of the peoples of South Italy and Sardinia. Their average stature was about five feet two inches. This closely corresponds with what is known of the stature of the Platycnemic race of Denbighshire, the Perthi-Chwareu. Busk[A] says of them that they were of low stature, the mean height, deduced from the lengths of the long bones, being little more than five feet. As both sexes are considered together in this description, it is fair to give the male a stature of about five feet two inches,[B] It also corresponds with the stature assigned by Pitt-Rivers to a tribe occupying the borders of Wiltshire and Dorsetshire during the Roman occupation, the average height of whose males and females was five feet two and a half inches and four feet ten and three-quarter inches respectively.

[Footnote A: _Jour. Ethn. Soc._, 1869-70, p. 455.]

[Footnote B: Since these pages were printed, Prof. Kollmann, of Basle, has described a group of Neolithic pigmies as having existed at Schaffhausen. The adult interments consisted of the remains of full-grown European types and of small-sized people. These two races were found interred side by side under precisely similar conditions, from which he concludes that they lived peaceably together, notwithstanding racial difference. Their stature (about three feet six inches) may be compared with that of the Veddahs in Ceylon. Prof. Kollmann believes that they were a distinct species of mankind.]

Dr. Rahon,[A] who has recently made a careful study of the bones of pre-historic and proto-historic races, with special reference to their stature, states that the skeletons attributed to the most ancient and to the Neolithic races are of a stature below the middle height, the average being a little over five feet three inches. The peoples who constructed the Megalithic remains of Roknia and of the Caucasus, were of a stature similar to our own. The diverse proto-historic populations, Gauls, Franks, Burgundians, and Merovingians, considered together, present a stature slightly superior to that of the French of the present day, but not so much so as the accounts of the historians would have led us to believe.

[Footnote A: _Recherches sur les Ossements Humaines, Anciens et Prehistonques. Mem. de la Soc. d’Anthrop. de Paris_, Ser, ii. tom. iv. 403.]

It remains now to deal with two races whose physical characters are of considerable importance in connection with certain points which will be dealt with in subsequent pages, I mean the Lapps and the Innuit or Eskimo.

The Lapps, according to Karonzine,[A] one of their most recent describers, are divisible into two groups, Scandinavian and Russian, the former being purer than the latter race. The average male stature is five feet, a figure which corresponds closely with that obtained by Mantegazza and quoted by Topinard. The extremes obtained by this observer amongst men were, on the one hand, five feet eight inches, and on the other four feet four inches. As, however, in a matter of this kind we have to deal with averages and not with extremes, we must conclude that the Lapps, though a stunted race, are not pigmies, in the sense in which the word is scientifically employed.

[Footnote A: _L’Anthropologie_, ii. 80.]

The Innuit or Eskimo were called by the original Norse explorers “Skraelingjar,” or dwarfs, a name now converted by the Innuit into “karalit,” which is the nearest approach that they are able to make phonetically to the former term. They are certainly, on the average, a people of less than middle stature, yet they can in no sense be described as Pigmies. Their mean height is five feet three inches. Nansen[A] says of them, “It is a common error amongst us in Europe to think of the Eskimo as a diminutive race. Though no doubt smaller than the Scandinavian peoples, they must be reckoned amongst the middle-sized races, and I even found amongst those of purest breeding men of nearly six feet in height.”

[Footnote A: _Eskimo Life_, p. 20.]


The _raison d’etre_ of Tyson’s essay was to explain away the accounts of the older writers relating to Pigmy races, on the ground that, as no such races existed, an explanation of some kind was necessary in order to account for so many and such detailed descriptions as were to be found in their works. Having now seen not merely that there are such things as Pigmy races, but that they have a wide distribution throughout the world, it may be well to consider to which of the existing or extinct races, the above-mentioned accounts may be supposed to have referred. In this task I am much aided in several instances by the labours of De Quatrefages, and as his book is easily accessible, it will be unnecessary for me to repeat the arguments in favour of his decisions which he has there given.

Starting with Asia, we have in the first place the statement of Pliny, that “immediately after the nation of the Prusians, in the mountains where it is said are pigmies, is found the Indus.” These Pigmies may be identified with the Brahouis, now Dravidian, but still possessing the habit, attributed to them by Pliny, of changing their dwellings twice a year, in summer and winter, migrations rendered necessary by the search for food for their flocks. The same author’s allusion to the “Spithamaei Pygmaei” of the mountains in the neighbourhood of the Ganges may apply to the Santals or some allied tribe, though Pliny’s stature for them of two feet four inches is exaggeratedly diminutive, and he has confused them with Homer’s Pigmies, who were, as will be seen, a totally different people.

Ctesias[A] tells us that “Middle India has black men, who are called Pygmies, using the same language as the other Indians; they are, however, very little; that the greatest do not exceed the height of two cubits, and the most part only of one cubit and a half. But they nourish the longest hair, hanging down unto the knees, and even below; moreover, they carry a beard more at length than any other men; but, what is more, after this promised beard is risen to them, they never after use any clothing, but send down, truly, the hairs from the back much below the knees, but draw the beard before down to the feet; afterward, when they have covered the whole body with hairs, they bind themselves, using those in the place of a vestment. They are, moreover, apes and deformed. Of these Pygmies, the king of the Indians has three thousand in his train; for they are very skilful archers.” No doubt the actual stature has been much diminished in this account, and, as De Quatrefages suggests, the garment of long floating grasses which they may well have worn, may have been mistaken for hair; yet, in the description, he believes that he is able to recognise the ancestors of the Bandra-Lokh of the Vindhya Mountains. Ctesias’ other statement, that “the king of India sends every fifth year fifty thousand swords, besides abundance of other weapons, to the nation of the Cynocephali,” may refer to the same or some other tribe.

[Footnote A: The quotation is taken from Ritson, _Fairy Tales_, P. 4.]

De Quatrefages also thinks that an allusion to the ancestors of the Jats, who would then have been less altered by crossing than now, may be found in Herodotus’ account of the army of Xerxes when he says, “The Eastern Ethiopians serve with the Indians. They resemble the other Ethiopians, from whom they only differ in language and hair. The Eastern Ethiopians have straight hair, while those of Lybia are more woolly than all other men.”

Writing of isles in the neighbourhood of Java, Maundeville says,[A] “In another yle, ther ben litylle folk, as dwerghes; and thei ben to so meche as the Pygmeyes, and thei han no mouthe, but in stede of hire mouthe, thei han a lytylle round hole; and whan thei schulle eten or drynken, thei taken thorghe a pipe or a penne or suche a thing, and sowken it in, for thei han no tongue, and therefore thei speke not, but thei maken a maner of hissynge, as a Neddre dothe, and thei maken signes on to another, as monkes don, be the whiche every of hem undirstondethe the other.”

[Footnote A: Ed. Halliwell, p. 205.]

Strip this statement of the characteristic Maundevillian touches with regard to the mouth and tongue, and it may refer to some of the insular races which exist or existed in the district of which he is treating.

A much fuller account[A] by the same author relates to Pigmies in the neighbourhood of a river, stated by a commentator[B] to be the Yangtze-Kiang, “a gret ryvere, that men clepen Dalay, and that is the grettest ryvere of fressche water that is in the world. For there, as it is most narow, it is more than 4 myle of brede. And thanne entren men azen in to the lond of the great Chane. That ryvere gothe thorge the lond of Pigmaus, where that the folk ben of litylle stature, that ben but 3 span long, and thei ben right faire and gentylle, aftre here quantytees, bothe the men and the women. And thei maryen hem, whan thei ben half zere of age and getten children. And thei lyven not, but 6 zeer or 7 at the moste. And he that lyveth 8 zeer, men holden him there righte passynge old. Theise men ben the beste worcheres of gold, sylver, cotoun, sylk, and of alle such thinges, of ony other, that be in the world. And thei han often tymes werre with the briddes of the contree, that thei taken and eten. This litylle folk nouther labouren in londes ne in vynes. But thei han grete men amonges hem, of oure stature, that tylen the lond, and labouren amonges the vynes for hem. And of the men of oure stature, han thei als grete skorne and wondre, as we wolde have among us of Geauntes, zif thei weren amonges us. There is a gode cytee, amonges othere, where there is duellynge gret plentee of the lytylle folk, and is a gret cytee and a fair, and the men ben grete that duellen amonges hem; but whan thei getten ony children, thei ben als litylle as the Pygmeyes, and therefore thei ben alle, for the moste part, alle Pygmeyes, for the nature of the land is suche. The great Cane let kepe this cytee fulle wel, for it is his. And alle be it, that the Pygmeyes ben litylle, zit thei ben fulle resonable, aftre here age and connen bothen wytt and gode and malice now.” This passage, as will be noted, incorporates the Homeric tale of the battles between the Pigmies and the Cranes, and is adorned with a representation of such an encounter. Whether Maundeville’s dwarfs were the same as the Siao-Jin of the Shan-hai-King is a question difficult to decide; but, in any case, both these pigmy races of legend inhabited a part of what is now the Chinese Empire. The same Pigmies seem to be alluded to in the rubric of the Catalan map of the world in the National Library of Paris, the date of which is A.D. 1375. “Here (N.W. of Catayo-Cathay) grow little men who are but five palms in height, and though they be little, and not fit for weighty matters, yet they be brave and clever at weaving and keeping cattle.” If such an explanation may be hazarded, we may perhaps go further and suppose that Paulus Jovius may have been alluding to the Koro-puk-guru, when, as Pomponius Mela tells us, he taught that there were Pigmies beyond Japan. In both these cases, however, it is well to remember that there is a river in Macedon as well as in Monmouth, and that it is hazardous to come to too definite a belief as to the exact location of the Pigmies of ancient writers.

[Footnote A: _Maundeville_, p. 211.]

[Footnote B: _Quart. Rev._, 172, p. 431.]

The continent of Africa yielded its share of Pigmies to the same writers. The most celebrated of all are those alluded to by Aristotle in his classical passage, “They (the Cranes) come out of Scythia to the Lakes above Egypt whence the Nile flows. This is the place whereabouts the Pigmies dwell. For this is no fable but a truth. Both they and the horses, as ’tis said, are of a small kind. They are Troglodytes and live in caves.”

Leaving aside the crane part of the tale, which it has been suggested may really have referred to ostriches, Aristotle’s Pigmy race may, from their situation, be fairly identified with the Akkas described by Stanley and others. That this race is an exceedingly ancient one is proved by the fact that Marriette Bey has discovered on a tomb of the ancient Empire of Egypt a figure of a dwarf with the name Akka inscribed by it. This race is also supposed to have been that which, alluded to by Homer, has become confused with other dwarf tribes in different parts of the world.

“So when inclement winters vex the plain With piercing frosts or thick-descending rain, To warmer seas the cranes embodied fly, With noise and order, through the midway sky; To Pigmy nations wounds and death they bring, And all the war descends upon the wing.”

Attention may here be drawn to Tyson’s quotation (p. 78) from Vossius as to the trade driven by the Pigmies in elephants’ tusks, since, as we have seen, this corresponds with what we now know as to the habits of the Akkas.

The account which Herodotus gives of the expedition of the Nasamonians is well known. Five men, chosen by lot from amongst their fellows, crossed the desert of Lybia, and, having marched several days in deep sand, perceived trees growing in the midst of the plain. They approached and commenced to eat the fruit which they bore. Scarcely had they begun to taste it, when they were surprised by a great number of men of a stature much inferior to the middle height, who seized them and carried them off. They were eventually taken to a city, the inhabitants of which were black. Near this city ran a considerable river whose course was from west to east, and in which crocodiles were found. In his account of the Akkas, Mr. Stanley believed that he had discovered the representatives of the Pigmies mentioned in this history. Speaking of one of these, he says,[A] “Twenty-six centuries ago his ancestors captured the five young Nasamonian explorers, and made merry with them at their villages on the banks of the Niger.” It may be correct to say that, at the period alluded to, the dwarf races of Africa were in more continuous occupancy of the land than is now the case, but such an identification as that just mentioned gives a false idea of the position of the Pigmies of Herodotus. De Quatrefages, after a most careful examination of the question in all its aspects, finds himself obliged to conclude, either that the Pigmy race seen by the Nasamonians still exists on the north of the Niger, which has been identified with the river alluded to by Herodotus, but has not, up to the present, been discovered; or that it has disappeared from those regions.

[Footnote A: _Op. supra cit._, ii. 40.]

Pomponius Mela has also his account of African Pigmies. Beyond the Arabian Gulf, and at the bottom of an indentation of the Red Sea, he places the Panchaeans, also called Ophiophagi, on account of the fact that they fed upon serpents. More within the Arabian bay than the Panchaeans are the Pigmies, a minute race, which became exterminated in the wars which it was compelled to wage with the Cranes for the preservation of its fruits. The region indicated somewhat corresponds with that which is assigned to the Dokos by their describer. In this district, too, other dwarf races have been reported. The French writer whom I have so often cited says, “The tradition of Eastern African Pigmies has never been lost by the Arabs. At every period the geographers of this nation have placed their River of Pigmies much more to the south. It is in this region, a little to the north of the Equator, and towards the 32 deg. of east longitude, that the Rev. Fr. Leon des Avanchers has found the Wa-Berrikimos or Cincalles, whose stature is about four feet four inches. The information gathered by M. D’Abbadie places towards the 6 deg. of north latitude the Mallas or Maze-Malleas, with a stature of five feet. Everything indicates that there exist, at the south of the Galla country, different negro tribes of small stature. It seems difficult to me not to associate them with the Pigmies of Pomponius Mela. Only they have retreated farther south. Probably this change had already taken place at the time when the Roman geographer wrote; it is, therefore, comprehensible that he may have regarded them as having disappeared.”

Tyson (p. 29) quotes the following passage from Photius:–“That Nonnosus sailing from Pharsa, when he came to the farthermost of the islands, a thing very strange to be heard of happened to him; for he lighted on some (animals) in shape and appearance like men, but little of stature, and of a black colour, and thick covered with hair all over their bodies. The women, who were of the same stature, followed the men. They were all naked, only the elder of them, both men and women, covered their privy parts with a small skin. They seemed not at all fierce or wild; they had a human voice, but their dialect was altogether unknown to everybody that lived about them, much more to those that were with Nonnosus. They lived upon sea-oysters and fish that were cast out of the sea upon the island. They had no courage for seeing our men; they were frighted, as we are at the sight of the greatest wild beast.” It is not easy to identify this race with any existing tribe of Pigmies, but the hairiness of their bodies, and above all their method of clothing themselves, leave no doubt that in this account we have a genuine story of some group of small-statured blacks.

From the foregoing account it will be seen that it is possible with more or less accuracy and certainty to identify most of those races which, described by the older writers, had been rejected by their successors. Time has brought their revenge to Aristotle and Pliny by showing that they were right, where Tyson, and even Buffon, were wrong.


The little people of story and legend have a much wider area of distribution than those of real life, and it is the object of this section to give some idea of their localities and dwellings. Imperfect as such an account must necessarily be, it will yet suffice I trust in some measure to show that, like the England of Arthurian times, all the world is “fulfilled of faery.”

In dealing with this part of the subject, it would be possible, following the example of Keightley, to treat the little folk of each country separately. But a better idea of their nature, and certainly one which for my purpose will be more satisfactory, can, I think, be obtained by classifying them according to the nature of their habitations, and mentioning incidentally such other points concerning them as it may seem advisable to bring out.

1. In the first place, then, fairies are found dwelling in mounds of different kinds, or in the interior of hills. This form of habitation is so frequently met with in Scotch and Irish accounts of the fairies, that it will not be necessary for me to burden these pages with instances, especially since I shall have to allude to them in a further section in greater detail. Suffice it to say, that many instances of such an association in the former country will be found in the pages of Mr. MacRitchie’s works, whilst as to the latter, I shall content myself by quoting Sir William Wilde’s statement, that every green “rath” in that country is consecrated to the “good people.” In England there are numerous instances of a similar kind. Gervase of Tilbury in the thirteenth century mentions such a spot in Gloucestershire: “There is in the county of Gloucester a forest abounding in boars, stags, and every species of game that England produces. In a grovy lawn of this forest there is a little mount, rising in a point to the height of a man.” With this mount he associates the familiar story of the offering of refreshment to travellers by its unseen inhabitants. In Warwickshire, the mound upon which Kenilworth Castle is built was formerly a fairy habitation.[A] Ritson[B] mentions that the “fairies frequented many parts of the Bishopric of Durham.” There is a hillock or tumulus near Bishopton, and a large hill near Billingham, both of which used in former time to be “haunted by fairies.” Even Ferry-hill, a well-known stage between Darlington and Durham, is evidently a corruption of “Fairy-hill.” In Yorkshire a similar story attaches to the sepulchral barrow of Willey How,[C] and in Sussex to a green mound called the Mount in the parish of Pulborough.[D] The fairies formerly frequented Bussers Hill in St. Mary’s Isle, one of the Scilly group.[E] The Bryn-yr-Ellyllon,[F] or Fairy-hill, near Mold, may be cited as a similar instance in Wales, which must again be referred to.

[Footnote A: _Testimony of Tradition_, p. 142.]

[Footnote B: _Op. cit._, p. 56.]

[Footnote C: _Folk Lore_, ii. 115.]

[Footnote D: _Folk Lore Record_, i. 16 and 28.]

[Footnote E: _Ritson_, p. 62.]

[Footnote F: Dawkins, _Early Man in Britain_, p. 433.]

The pages of Keightley’s work contain instances of hill-inhabiting fairies in Scandinavia, Denmark, the Isle of Rugen, Iceland, Germany, and Switzerland. It is not only in Europe, however, that this form of habitation is to be met with; we find it also in America. The Sioux have a curious superstition respecting a mound near the mouth of the Whitestone River, which they call the Mountain of Little People or Little Spirits; they believe that it is the abode of little devils in the human form, of about eighteen inches high and with remarkably large heads; they are armed with sharp arrows, in the use of which they are very skilful. These little spirits are always on the watch to kill those who should have the hardihood to approach their residence. The tradition is that many have suffered from their malice, and that, among others, three Maha Indians fell a sacrifice to them a few years since. This has inspired all the neighbouring nations, Sioux, Mahas, and Ottoes, with such terror, that no consideration could tempt them to visit the hill.[A]

[Footnote A: Lewis and Clarke, _Travels to the Source of the Missouri River._ Quoted in _Flint Chips_, p. 346. The tale is also given in _Folk Lore, Oriental and American_ (Gibbings & Co.), p. 45.]

The mounds or hills inhabited by the fairies are, however, of very diverse kinds, as we discover when we attempt to analyse their actual nature. In some cases they are undoubtedly natural elevations. Speaking of the exploration of the Isle of Unst, Hunt[A] says that the term “Fairy Knowe” is applied alike to artificial and to natural mounds. “We visited,” he states, “two ‘Fairy Knowes’ in the side of the hill near the turning of the road from Reay Wick to Safester, and found that these wonderful relics were merely natural formations. The workmen were soon convinced of this, and our digging had the effect of proving to them that the fairies had nothing to do with at least two of these hillocks.” The same may surely be said of that favourite and important fairy haunt Tomnahurich, near Inverness, though Mr. MacRitchie seems to think that an investigation, were such possible, of its interior, might lead to a different explanation.

[Footnote A: _Anthrop. Mems._, ii. 294.]

In other cases, and these are of great importance in coming to a conclusion as to the origin of fairy tales, the mounds inhabited by the little people are of a sepulchral nature. This is the case in the instance of Willey How, which, when explored by Canon Greenwell, was found, in spite of its size and the enormous care evidently bestowed upon its construction, to be merely a cenotaph. A grave there was, sunk more than twelve feet deep in the chalk rock; but no corporeal tenant had ever occupied it.

This fact is still more clearly shown in the remarkable case mentioned by Professor Boyd Dawkins. A barrow called Bryn-yr-Ellyllon (Fairy-hill), near Mold, was said to be haunted by a ghost clad in golden armour which had been seen to enter it. The barrow was opened in the year 1832, and was found to contain the skeleton of a man wearing a golden corselet of Etruscan workmanship.

The same may be said respecting that famous fairy-hill in Ireland, the Brugh of the Boyne, though Mr. MacRitchie seems to regard it as having been a dwelling-place. Mr. Coffey in a most careful study appears to me to have finally settled the question.[A] He speaks of the remains as those of probably the most remarkable of the pre-Christian cemeteries of Ireland. Of the stone basins, whose nature Mr. MacRitchie regards as doubtful, he says, “There can be hardly any doubt but that they served the purpose of some rude form of sarcophagus, or of a receptacle for urns.” Mr. Coffey quotes the account from the Leadhar na huidri respecting cemeteries, in which Brugh is mentioned as amongst the chief of those existing before the faith (i.e. before the introduction of Christianity). “The nobles of the Tuatha de Danann were used to bury at Brugh (i.e. the Dagda with his three sons; also Lugaidh, and Oe, and Ollam, and Ogma, and Etan the Poetess, and Corpre, the son of Etan), and Cremthain followed them, because his wife Nar was of the Tuatha Dea, and it was she solicited him that he should adopt Brugh as a burial-place for himself and his descendants, and this was the cause that they did not bury at Cruachan.” Mr. Coffey also quotes O’Hartagain’s poem, which seems to bear in Mr. MacRitchie’s favour:–

“Behold the sidhe before your eyes:
It is manifest to you that it is a king’s mansion, Which was built by the firm Dagda;
It was a wonder, a court, a wonderful hill.”

[Footnote A: _Tumuli at New Grange. Trans. Roy. Irish Academy_, XXX. 1.]

But certain of the expressions in this are evidently to be taken figuratively, since Mr. Coffey states, in connection with this and other quotations, that their importance consists in that they establish the existence at a very early date of a tradition associating Brugh na Boinne, the burial-place of the kings of Tara, with the tumuli on the Boyne. The association of particular monuments with the Dagda and other divinities and heroes of Irish mythology implies that the actual persons for whom they were erected had been forgotten, the pagan traditions being probably broken by the introduction of Christianity. The mythological ancestors of the heroes and kings interred at Brugh, who probably were even contemporarily associated with the cemetery, no doubt subsequently overshadowed in tradition the actual persons interred there.

Finally, it seems that the fairy hills may have been actual dwelling-places, fortified or not, of prehistoric peoples. Such were no doubt some of the Picts’ houses so fully dealt with by Mr. MacRitchie, though Petrie[A] seems to have considered that many of these were sepulchral in their nature. Such were also the Raths of Ireland and fortified hills, like the White Cater Thun of Forfarshire.

[Footnote A: _Anthrop. Mems._, ii. 216.]

The interior of the mound-dwellings, as described in the stories, is a point to which allusion should be made. Sometimes the mound contains a splendid palace, adorned with gold and silver and precious stones, like the palace of the King of Elfland in the tale of “Childe Rowland.” In the Scandinavian mound-stories we find a curious incident, for they are described as being capable of being raised upon red pillars, and as being so raised when the occupants gave a feast to their neighbours. “There are three hills on the lands of Bubbelgaard in Funen, which are to this day called the Dance-hills, from the following occurrence. A lad named Hans was at service in Bubbelgaard, and as he was coming one evening past the hills, he saw one of them raised on red pillars, and great dancing and much merriment underneath.”[A] This feature is met with in several of the stories collected by Keightley, and is made use of in Cruikshank’s picture, which forms the frontispiece to that volume. Lastly, in a number of cases there is not merely a habitation, but a vast country underneath the mound. An instance of this occurs in the tale of John Dietrich from the Isle of Ruegen. Under the Nine-hills he found “that there were in that place the most beautiful walks, in which he might ramble along for miles in all directions, without ever finding an end of them, so immensely large was the hill that the little people lived in, and yet outwardly it seemed but a little hill, with a few bushes and trees growing on it.”[B]

[Footnote A: Quoted by Keightley (p. 9), from Thiele, i. 118.]

[Footnote B: Keightley, 178.]

2. The haunts of the fairies may be in caves, and examples of this form of dwelling-place are to be met with in different parts of the world. The Scandinavian hill people live in caves or small hills, and the Elves or dwarfs of La Romagna “dwell in lonely places, far away in the mountains, deep in them, in caves or among old ruins and rocks,” as Mr. Leland,[A] who gives a tale respecting these little people, tells us. A Lithuanian tale[B] tells “how the hero, Martin, went into a forest to hunt, accompanied by a smith and a tailor. Finding an empty hut, they took possession of it; the tailor remained in it to cook the dinner, and the others went forth to the chase. When the dinner was almost ready, there came to the hut a very little old man with a very long beard, who piteously begged for food. After receiving it, he sprang on the tailor’s neck and beat him almost to death. When the hunters returned, they found their comrade groaning on his couch, complaining of illness, but saying nothing about the bearded dwarf. Next day the smith suffered in a similar way; but when it came to Martin’s turn, he proved too many and too strong for the dwarf, whom he overcame, and whom he fastened by the beard to the stump of a tree. But the dwarf tore himself loose before the hunters came back from the forest and escaped into a cavern. Tracing him by the drops of blood which had fallen from him, the three companions came to the mouth of the cavern, and Martin was lowered into it by the two others. Within it he found three princesses, who had been stolen by three dragons. These dragons he slew, and the princesses and their property he took to the spot above which his comrades kept watch, who hoisted them out of the cavern, but left Martin in it to die. As he wandered about disconsolately, he found the bearded dwarf, whom he slew. And soon afterwards he was conveyed out of the cavern by a flying serpent, and was able to punish his treacherous friends, and to recover the princesses, all three of whom he simultaneously married.”

[Footnote A: _Etrusco Roman Remains_, p. 222.]

[Footnote B: _Folk Lore Record_, i. 85. Mr. Hartland points out to me that this tale, being a Marchen, does not afford quite such good evidence of belief as actually or recently existing as a saga.]

Amongst the Magyars,[A] also, in some localities caves are pointed out as the haunts of fairies, such as the caves in the side of the rock named Budvar, the cave Borza-vara, near the castle of Dame Rapson; another haunt of the fairies is the cave near Almas, and the cold wind known as the “Nemere” is said to blow when the fairy in Almas cave feels cold. On one occasion the plague was raging in this neighbourhood; the people ascribed it to the cold blast emanating from the cave; so they hung shirts before the mouth of the cave and the plague ceased.

[Footnote A: Jones and Kropf, _Folk Tales of the Magyars_, pp. xxxvi. _et seq_.]

In a widely distant part of the world, the Battaks-Karo,[A] of the high ground north of Lake Toba in Sumatra, believe in three classes of mysterious beings, one of which closely corresponds with the fairies of Europe. The first group are called Hantous; they are giants and dead Begous (i.e. definitely dead souls), who inhabit Mount Sampouran together with the second group. These are called Omangs; they are dwarfs who marry and reproduce their species, live generally in mountains, and have their feet placed transversely. They must be propitiated, and those making the ascent of Mount Sebayak sacrifice a white hen to them, or otherwise the Omangs would throw stones at them. They carry off men and women, and often keep them for years. They love to dwell amongst stones, and the Roumah Omang, which is one of their favourite habitations, is a cavern. The third group, or Orangs Boumans, resemble ordinary beings, but have the power of making themselves invisible. They come down from the mountains to buy supplies, but have not been seen for some time. Westenberg, from whom this information is quoted, regards the last class as being proscribed Battaks, who have fled for refuge to the mountains. Passing to another continent, the Iroquois[B] have several stories about Pigmies, one of whom, by name Go-ga-ah, lives in a little cave.

[Footnote A: _L’Anthropologie_, iv. 83.]

[Footnote B: Smith, _Myths of the Iroquois_. _American Bureau of Ethnology_, ii. 65.]

3. The little people may occupy a castle or house, or the hill upon which such a building is erected, or a cave under it. Without dwelling upon the Brownies and other similar distinctly household spirits, there are certain classes which must be mentioned in this connection. The Magyar fairies live in castles on lofty mountain peaks. They build them themselves, or inherit them from giants. Kozma enumerates the names of about twenty-three castles which belonged to fairies, and which still exist. Although they have disappeared from earth, they continue to live, even in our days, in caves under their castles, in which caves their treasures lie hidden. The iron gates of Zeta Castle, which have subsided into the ground and disappeared from the surface, open once in every seven years. On one occasion a man went in there, and met two beautiful fairies whom he addressed thus, “How long will you still linger here, my little sisters?” and they replied, “As long as the cows will give warm milk.”

Like the interior of some of the mound-dwellings already mentioned, these fairy caves are splendid habitations. “Their subterranean habitations are not less splendid and glittering than were their castles of yore on the mountain peaks. The one at Firtos is a palace resting on solid gold columns. The palace at Tartod and the gorgeous one of Dame Rapson are lighted by three diamond balls, as big as human heads, which hang from golden chains. The treasure which is heaped up in the latter place consists of immense gold bars, golden lions with carbuncle eyes, a golden hen with her brood, and golden casks, filled with gold coin. The treasures of Fairy Helen are kept in a cellar under Kovaszna Castle, the gates of the cellar being guarded by a magic cock. This bird only goes to sleep once in seven years, and anybody who could guess the right moment would be able to scrape no end of diamond crystals from the walls and bring them out with him. The fairies who guard the treasures of the Poganyvar (Pagan Castle) in Marosszek even nowadays come on moonlight nights to bathe in the lake below.”[A] In Brittany, “a number of little men, not more than a foot high, dwell under the castle of Morlaix. They live in holes in the ground, whither they may often be seen going, and beating on basins. They possess great treasures, which they sometimes bring out; and if any one pass by at the time, allow him to take one handful, but no more. Should any one attempt to fill his pockets, the money vanishes, and he is instantly assailed by a shower of boxes on the ear from invisible hands.”[B] In the Netherlands, the “Gypnissen,” “queer little women,” lived in a castle which had been reared in a single night.[C] The Ainu have tales of the Poiyaumbe, a name which means literally “little beings residing on the soil” (Mr. Batchelor says that “little” is probably meant to express endearment or admiration, but one may be allowed to doubt this). The Ainu, who is the hero of the story, “comes to a tall mountain with a beautiful house built on its summit. Descending, for his path had always been through the air, by the side of the house, and looking through the chinks of the door, he saw a little man and a little woman sitting beside the fireplace.”[D]

[Footnote A: _Folk Tales of the Magyars_, p. xxxviii.]

[Footnote B: Grimm, apud Keightley, 441.]

[Footnote C: _Testimony of Tradition_, p. 86.]

[Footnote D: _Folk Lore Journal_, vi. 195.]

4. The little people or fairies occupy rude stone monuments or are connected with their building. In Brittany they are associated with several of the megalithic remains.[A] “At Carnac, near Quiberon,” says M. De Cambry, “in the department of Morbihan, on the sea-shore, is the Temple of Carnac, called in Breton ‘Ti Goriquet’ (House of the Gories), one of the most remarkable Celtic monuments extant. It is composed of more than four thousand large stones, standing erect in an arid plain, where neither tree nor shrub is to be seen, and not even a pebble is to be found in the soil on which they stand. If the inhabitants are asked concerning this wonderful monument, they say it is an old camp of Caesar’s, an army turned into stone, or that it is the work of the Crions or Gories. These they describe as little men between two and three feet high, who carried these enormous masses on their hands; for, though little, they are stronger than giants. Every night they dance around the stones, and woe betide the traveller who approaches within their reach! he is forced to join in the dance, where he is whirled about till, breathless and exhausted, he falls down, amidst the peals of laughter of the Crions. All vanish with the break of day. In the ruins of Tresmalouen dwell the Courils. They are of a malignant disposition, but great lovers of dancing. At night they sport around the Druidical monuments. The unfortunate shepherd that approaches them must dance their rounds with them till cockcrow; and the instances are not few of persons thus ensnared who have been found next morning dead with exhaustion and fatigue. Woe also to the ill-fated maiden who draws near the Couril dance! nine months after, the family counts one member more. Yet so great is the cunning and power of these dwarfs, that the young stranger bears no resemblance to them, but they impart to it the features of some lad of the village.”

[Footnote A: Keightley, 440.]

In India megalithic remains are also associated with little people. “Dwarfs hold a distinct place in Hindu mythology; they appear sculptured on all temples. Siva is accompanied by a body-guard of dwarfs, one of whom, the three-legged Bhringi, dances nimbly. But coming nearer to Northern legend, the cromlechs and kistvaens which abound over Southern India are believed to have been built by a dwarf race, a cubit high, who could, nevertheless, move and handle the huge stones easily. The villagers call them Pandayar.”[A]

[Footnote A: _Folk Lore_, iv. 401.]

Mr. Meadows Taylor, speaking of cromlechs in India, says, “Wherever I found them, the same tradition was attached to them, that they were Morie humu, or Mories’ houses; these Mories having been dwarfs who inhabited the country before the present race of men.” Again, speaking of the cromlechs of Koodilghee, he states, “Tradition says that former Governments caused dwellings of the description alluded to to be erected for a species of human beings called ‘Mohories,’ whose dwarfish stature is said not to have exceeded a span when standing, and a fist high when in a sitting posture, who were endowed with strength sufficient to roll off large stones with a touch of their thumb.” There are, he also tells us, similar traditions attaching to other places, where the dwarfs are sometimes spoken of as Gujaries.[A]

[Footnote A: _Jour. Ethnol. Soc_., 1868-69, p. 157.]

Of stone structures built by fairies or little people for the use of others, may be mentioned the churches built by dwarfs in Scotland and Brittany, and described by Mr. MacRitchie, as also the two following instances, taken from widely distant parts of the globe. In Brittany, the dolmen of Manne-er Hrock (Montaigne de la Fee), at Locmariaquer, is said to have been built by a fairy, in order that a mother might stand upon it and look out for her son’s ship.[A] In Fiji the following tale is told about the Nanga or sacred stone enclosure:–“This is the word of our fathers concerning the Nanga. Long ago their fathers were ignorant of it; but one day two strangers were found sitting in the Rara (public square), and they said they had come up from the sea to give them the Nanga. They were little men, and very dark-skinned, and one of them had his face and bust painted red, while the other was painted black. Whether these were gods or men our fathers did not tell us, but it was they who taught our people the Nanga. This was in the old times, when our fathers were living in another land–not in this place, for we are strangers here.”[B] It is worthy of note that the term “Nanga” applies not merely to the enclosure, but also to the secret society which held its meetings therein.[C]

[Footnote A: _Flint Chips_, p. 104.]

[Footnote B: Fison, _Journ. Anthrop. Inst._, xiv, 14.]

[Footnote C: Joske, _Internat. Arch. f. Ethnographie_, viii. 254.]

5. The little people make their dwellings either in the interior of a stone or amongst stones. I am not here alluding to the stones on the sides of mountains which are the doorways to fairy dwellings, but to a closer connection, which will be better understood from some of the following instances than from any lengthy explanation. The Duergas of the Scandinavian Eddas had their dwelling-places in stones, as we are told in the story of Thorston, who “came one day to an open part of the wood, where he saw a great rock, and out a little way from it a dwarf, who was horridly ugly.”[A] In Ireland, in Innisbofin, co. Galway, Professor Haddon relates that the men who were quarrying a rock in the neighbourhood of the harbour refused to work at it any longer, as it was so full of “good people” as to be hot.[B] In England the Pixy-house of Devon is in a stone, and a large stone is also connected with the story of the Frensham caldron, though it is not clear that the fairies lived in the rock itself.[C] Oseberrow or Osebury (_vulgo_ Rosebury) Rock, in Lulsey, Worcestershire, was, according to tradition, a favourite haunt of the fairies.[D] In another part of Worcestershire, on the side of the Cotswolds, there is, in a little spinney, a large flat stone, much worn on its under surface, which is called the White Lady’s Table. This personage is supposed to take her meals with the fairies at this rock, but what the exact relation of the little people to it as a dwelling-place may be, I have not been able to learn.

[Footnote A: Keightley, 70.]

[Footnote B: _Folklore_, iv. 49.]

[Footnote C: Ritson, 106, quoting Aubrey’s _Natural History of Surrey_, iii. 366.]

[Footnote D: Allies, _Antiquities and Folk-Lore of Worcestershire_, p.443.]

There is an Iroquois tale of dwarfs, in which the summons to the Pigmies was given by knocking upon a large stone.[A] The little people of Melanesia seem also to be associated in some measure with stones. Speaking of these beings, Mr. Codrington says,[B] “There are certain Vuis having rather the nature of fairies. The accounts of them are vague, but it is argued that they had never left the islands before the introduction of Christianity, and indeed have been seen since. Not long ago there was a woman living at Mota who was the child of one, and a very few years ago a female Vui with a child was seen in Saddle Island. Some of these were called Nopitu, which come invisibly, or possess those with whom they associate themselves. The possessed are called Nopitu. Such persons would lift a cocoa-nut to drink, and native shell money would run out instead of the juice and rattle against their teeth; they would vomit up money, or scratch and shake themselves on a mat, when money would pour from their fingers. This was often seen, and believed to be the doing of a Nopitu. In another manner of manifestation, a Nopitu would make himself known as a party were sitting round an evening fire. A man would hear a voice in his thigh, ‘Here am I, give me food.’ He would roast a little red yam, and fold it in the corner of his mat. He would soon find it gone, and the Nopitu would begin a song. Its voice was so small and clear and sweet, that once heard it never could be forgotten; but it sang the ordinary Mota songs. Such spirits as these, if seen or found, would disappear beside a stone; they were smaller than the native people, darker, and with long straight hair. But they were mostly unseen, or seen only by those to whom they took a fancy. They were the friendly Trolls or Robin Goodfellows of the islands; a man would find a fine red yam put for him on the seat beside the door, or the money which he paid away returned within his purse. A woman working in her garden heard a voice from the fruit of a gourd asking for some food, and when she pulled up an arum or dug out a yam, another still remained; but when she listened to another spirit’s panpipes, the first in his jealousy conveyed away garden and all.” Amongst the Australians also supernatural beings dwell amongst the rocks, and the Annamites and Arabians know of fairies living amongst the rocks and hills.[C]

[Footnote A: Smith, _Myths of Iroquois, ut supra._]

[Footnote B: _Journ. Anthrop. Inst._, x. 261.]

[Footnote C: Hartland, _Science of Fairy Tales_, p. 351.]

6. The little people may have their habitation in forests or trees. Such were the Skovtrolde, or Wood-Trolls of Thorlacius,[A] who made their home on the earth in great thick woods, and the beings in South Germany who resemble the dwarfs, and are called Wild, Wood, Timber and Moss People.[B] “These generally live together in society, but they sometimes appear singly. They are small in stature, yet somewhat larger than the Elf, being the size of children of three years, grey and old-looking, hairy and clad in moss. Their lives are attached, like those of the Hamadryads, to the trees, and if any one causes by friction the inner bark to loosen, a Wood-woman dies.” In Scandinavia there is also a similarity between certain of the Elves and Hamadryads. The Elves “not only frequent trees, but they make an interchange of form with them. In the churchyard of Store Heddinge, in Zeeland, there are the remains of an oak-wood. These, say the common people, are the Elle King’s soldiers; by day they are trees, by night valiant soldiers. In the wood of Rugaard, in the same island, is a tree which by night becomes a whole Elle-people, and goes about all alive. It has no leaves upon it, yet it would be very unsafe to go to break or fell it, for the underground people frequently hold their meetings under its branches. There is, in another place, an elder-tree growing in a farmyard, which frequently takes a walk in the twilight about the yard, and peeps in through the window at the children when they are alone. The linden or lime-tree is the favourite haunt of the Elves and cognate beings, and it is not safe to be near it after sunset.”[C] In England, the fairies also in some cases frequent the woods, as is their custom in the Isle of Man, and in Wales, where there was formerly, in the park of Sir Robert Vaughan, a celebrated old oak-tree, named Crwben-yr-Ellyl, or the Elf’s Hollow Tree. In Formosa[D] there is also a tale of little people inhabiting a wood. “A young Botan became too ardent in his devotion to a young lady of the tribe, and was slain by her relatives, while, as a warning as to the necessity for love’s fervour being kept within bounds, his seven brothers were banished by the chief. The exiles went forth into the depths of the forest, and in their wanderings after a new land they crossed a small clearing, in which a little girl, about a span in height, was seated peeling potatoes. ‘Little sister,’ they queried, ‘how come you here? where is your home?’ ‘I am not of homes nor parents,’ she replied. Leaving her, they went still farther into the forest, and had not gone far when they saw a little man cutting canes, and farther on to the right a curious-looking house, in front of which sat two diminutive women combing their hair. Things looked so queer that the travellers hesitated about approaching nearer, but, eager to find a way out of the forest, they determined in their extremity to question the strange people. The two women, when interrogated, turned sharply round, showing eyes of a flashing red; then looking upward, their eyes became dull and white, and they immediately ran into the house, the doors and windows of which at once vanished, the whole taking the form and appearance of an isolated boulder.” Amongst the Maories also we have “te tini ote hakuturi,” or “the multitude of the wood-elves,” the little people who put the chips all back into the tree Rata had felled and stood it up again, because he had not paid tribute to Tane.[E]

[Footnote A: Quoted by Keightley, p. 62.]

[Footnote B: Grimm ap. Keightley, p. 230.]

[Footnote C: Keightley, p. 92, quoting from Thiele.]

[Footnote D: _Folk Lore Journal_, v. 143.]

[Footnote E: Tregear, _Journ. Anth. Inst._, xix. 121.]

7. The association of little people with water as a home is a widespread notion. The Sea-Trows of the Shetlanders inhabit a region of their own at the bottom of the sea. They here respire a peculiar atmosphere, and live in habitations constructed of the choicest submarine productions. They are, however, not always small, but may be of diverse statures, like the Scandinavian Necks. In Germany the Water-Dwarfs are also known. At Seewenheiher, in the Black Forest, a little water-man (_Seemaennlein_) used to come and join the people, work the whole day along with them, and in the evening go back into the lakes.[A] The size of the Breton Korrigs or Korrigan, if we may believe Villemarque in his account of this folk, does not exceed two feet, but their proportions are most exact, and they have long flowing hair, which they comb out with great care. Their only dress is a long white veil, which they wind round their body. Seen at night or in the dusk of the evening, their beauty is great; but in the daylight their eyes appear red, their hair is white, and their faces wrinkled; hence they rarely let themselves be seen by day. They are fond of music, and have fine voices, but are not much given to dancing. Their favourite haunts are the springs, by which they sit and comb their hair.[B] The Maories also have their Water-Pigmies, the Ponaturi, who are, according to Mr. Tregear, elves, little tiny people, mostly dwellers in water, coming ashore to sleep.[C] “The spirits most commonly met with in African mythology,” says Mr. Macdonald, “are water or river spirits, inhabiting deep pools where there are strong eddies and under-currents. Whether they are all even seen now-a-days it is difficult to determine, but they must at one time have either shown themselves willingly, or been dragged from their hiding-places by some powerful magician, for they are one and all described. They are dwarfs, and correspond to the Scottish conception of kelpies or fairies. They are wicked and malevolent beings, and are never credited with a good or generous action. Whatever they possess they keep, and greedily seize upon any one who comes within their reach. ‘One of them, the Incanti, corresponds to the Greek Python, and another, called Hiti, appears in the form of a small and very ugly man, and is exceedingly malevolent’ (Brownlee). It is certain death to see an Incanti, and no one but the magicians sees them except in dreams, and in that case the magicians are consulted, and advise and direct what is to be done.”[D]

[Footnote A: Grimm ap. Keightley, p. 261.]

[Footnote B: Villemarque, ibid., 431.]

[Footnote C: Tregear, _ut supra._]

[Footnote D: _Journ. Anthrop. Inst._, xx. 124.]

Dr. Nansen, speaking of the Ignerssuit (plural of Ignersuak, which means “great fire”), says that they are for the most part good spirits, inclined to help men. The entrance to their dwellings is on the sea-shore. According to the Eskimo legend, “The first earth which came into existence had neither seas nor mountains, but was quite smooth. When the One above was displeased with the people upon it, He destroyed the world. It burst open, and the people fell down into the rifts and became Ignerssuit and the water poured over everything.”[A] The spirits here alluded to appear to be the same as those described by Mr. Boas as Uissuit in his monograph on the Central Eskimo. He describes them as “a strange people that live in the sea. They are dwarfs, and are frequently seen between Iglulik and Netchillik, where the Anganidjen live, an Innuit tribe whose women are in the habit of tracing rings around their eyes. There are men and women among the Uissuit, and they live in deep water, never coming to the surface. When the Innuit wish to see them, they go in their boats to a place where they cannot see the bottom, and try to catch them with hooks which they slowly move up and down. As soon as they get a bite they draw in the line. The Uissuit are thus drawn up; but no sooner do they approach the surface than they dive down headlong again, only their legs having emerged from the water. The Innuit have never succeeded in getting one out of the water.”[A]

[Footnote A: Nansen, _ut supra_, p. 259.]

[Footnote A: _American Bureau of Ethnology_, vi. 612.]

8. Amongst habitations not coming under any of the above categories may be mentioned the moors and open places affected by the Cornish fairies, and lastly the curious residences of the Kirkonwaki or Church-folk of the Finns. “It is an article of faith with the Finns that there dwell under the altar in every church little misshapen beings which they call Kirkonwaki, i.e., Church-folk. When the wives of these little people have a difficult labour, they are relieved if a Christian woman visits them and lays her hand upon them. Such service is always rewarded by a gift of gold and silver.”[A] These folk evidently correspond to the Kirkgrims of Scandinavian countries, and the traditions respecting both are probably referable to the practice of foundation sacrifices.

[Footnote A: Grimm ap. Keightley, p. 488.]


The subject of Pigmy races and fairy tales cannot be considered to have been in any sense fully treated without some consideration of a theory which, put forward by various writers and in connection with the legends of diverse countries, has recently been formulated by Mr. MacRitchie in a number of most interesting and suggestive books and papers. An early statement of this theory is to be found in a paper by Mr. J.F. Campbell, in which he stated, “It is somewhat remarkable that traditions still survive in the Highlands of Scotland which seem to be derived from the habits of Scotch tribes like the Lapps in our day. Stories are told in Sutherlandshire about a ‘witch’ who milked deer; a ‘ghost’ once became acquainted with a forester, and at his suggestion packed all her plenishing on a herd of deer, when forced to flit by another and a bigger ‘ghost;’ the green mounds in which ‘fairies’ are supposed to dwell closely resemble the outside of Lapp huts. The fairies themselves are not represented as airy creatures in gauze wings and spangles, but they appear in tradition as small cunning people, eating and drinking, living close at hand in their green mound, stealing children and cattle, milk and food, from their bigger neighbours. They are uncanny, but so are the Lapps. My own opinion is that these Scotch traditions relate to the tribes who made kitchen-middens and lake-dwellings in Scotland, and that they were allied to Lapps.”[A] Such in essence is Mr. MacRitchie’s theory, which has been so admirably summarised by Mr. Jacobs in the first of that series of fairy-tale books which has added a new joy to life, that I shall do myself the pleasure of quoting his statement in this place. He says: “Briefly put, Mr. MacRitchie’s view is that the elves, trolls, and fairies represented in popular tradition are really the mound-dwellers, whose remains have been discovered in some abundance in the form of green hillocks, which have been artificially raised over a long and low passage leading to a central chamber open to the sky. Mr. MacRitchie shows that in several instances traditions about trolls or ‘good people’ have attached themselves to mounds which long afterwards, on investigation, turned out to be evidently the former residence of men of smaller build than the mortals of to-day. He goes on further to identify these with the Picts– fairies are called ‘Pechs’ in Scotland–and other early races, but with these ethnological equations we need not much concern ourselves. It is otherwise with the mound traditions and their relation, if not to fairy tales in general, to tales about fairies, trolls, elves, &c. These are very few in number, and generally bear the character of anecdotes. The fairies, &c., steal a child; they help a wanderer to a drink and then disappear into a green hill; they help cottagers with their work at night, but disappear if their presence is noticed; human midwives are asked to help fairy mothers; fairy maidens marry ordinary men, or girls marry and live with fairy husbands. All such things may have happened and bear no such _a priori_ marks of impossibility as speaking animals, flying through the air, and similar incidents of the folk-tale pure and simple. If, as archaeologists tell us, there was once a race of men in Northern Europe very short and hairy, that dwelt in underground chambers artificially concealed by green hillocks, it does not seem unlikely that odd survivors of the race should have lived on after they had been conquered and nearly exterminated by Aryan invaders, and should occasionally have performed something like the pranks told of fairies and trolls.”[B] In the same place, and also in another article,[C] the writer just quoted has applied this theory to the explanation of the story of “Childe Rowland.”

[Footnote A: _Journ. Ethnol. Soc._, 1869-70, p. 325.]

[Footnote B: _English Fairy Tales_, p. 241.]

[Footnote C: _Folk Lore_, ii. 126.]

Mr. MacRitchie has, in another paper,[A] collected a number of instances of the use of the word _Sith_ in connection with hillocks and tumuli, which are the resort of the fairies. Here also he discusses the possible connection of that word with that of _Tshud_, the title of the vanished supernatural inhabitants of the land amongst the Finns and other “Altaic” Turanian tribes of Russia, as in other places he has endeavoured to trace a connection between the Finns and the Feinne. Into these etymological questions I have no intention to enter, since I am not qualified to do so, nor is it necessary, as they have been fully dealt with by Mr. Nutt, whose opinion on this point is worthy of all attention.[B] But it may be permitted to me to inquire how far Mr. MacRitchie’s views tally with the facts mentioned in the foregoing section. I shall therefore allude to a few points which appear to me to show that the origin of the belief in fairies cannot be settled in so simple a manner as has been suggested, but is a question of much greater complexity–one in which, as Mr. Tylor says, more than one mythic element combines to make up the whole.

[Footnote A: _Journ. Roy. Soc. Antiq. Ireland_, iii. 367.]

[Footnote A: _Folk and Hero Tales from Argyleshire_, p. 420.]

(1.) In the first place, then, it seems clear, so far as our present knowledge teaches us, that there never was a really Pigmy race inhabiting the northern parts of Scotland.

The scanty evidence which we have on this point, so far as it goes, proves the truth of this assertion. Mr. Carter Blake found in the Muckle Heog of the Island of Unst, one of the Shetlands, together with stone vessels, human interments of persons of considerable stature and of great muscular strength. Speaking of the Keiss skeletons, Professor Huxley says that the males are, the one somewhat above, and the other probably about the average stature; while the females are short, none exceeding five feet two inches or three inches in height.[A] And Dr. Garson, treating of the osteology of the ancient inhabitants of the Orkneys, says that the female skeleton which he examined was about five feet two inches in height, i.e., about the mean height of the existing races of England.[B] There is no evidence that Lapps and Eskimo ever visited these parts of the world; and if they did, as we have seen, their stature, though stunted, cannot fairly be described as pigmy. Even if we grant that the stature of the early races did not average more than five feet two inches, which, by the way, was the height of the great Napoleon, it is more than doubtful whether it fell so far short of that of succeeding races as to cause us to imagine that it gave rise to tales about a race of dwarfs.

[Footnote A: Laing, _Prehistoric Remains of Caithness_, p. 101.]

[Footnote B: _Journ. Anthrop. Inst._, xiii. 60.]

(2.) The mounds with which the tales of little people are associated have not, in many cases, been habitations, but were natural or sepulchral in their nature. It may, of course, be argued that the story having once arisen in connection with one kind of mound, may, by a process easy to understand, have been transferred to other hillocks similar in appearance, though diverse in nature. It is difficult to see, however, how this could have occurred in Yorkshire and other parts of England, where it is not argued that the stunted inhabitants of the North ever penetrated. It is still more difficult to explain how similar legends can have originated in America in connection with mounds, since there never were Pigmy races in that continent.

(3.) The rude and simple arrangements of the interior of these mound dwellings might have, in the process of time, become altered into the gorgeous halls, decked with gold and silver and precious stones, as we find them in the stories; they might even, though this is much more difficult to understand, have become possessed of the capacity for being raised upon red pillars. But there is one pitch to which, I think, they could never have attained, and that is the importance which they assume when they become the external covering of a large and extensive tract of underground country. Here we are brought face to face with a totally different explanation, to which I shall recur in due course.

(4.) The little people are not by any means associated entirely with mounds, as the foregoing section is largely intended to show. Their habitations may be in or amongst stones, in caves, under the water, in trees, or amongst the glades of a forest; they may dwell on mountains, on moors, or even under the altars of churches. We may freely grant that some of these habitations fall into line with Mr. MacRitchie’s theory, but they are not all susceptible of such an explanation.

(5.) The association of giants and dwarfs in certain places, even the confusion of the two races, seems somewhat difficult of explanation by this theory. In Ireland the distinction between the two classes is sharper than in other places, since, as Sir William Wilde pointed out, whilst every green rath in that island is consecrated to the fairies or “good people,” the remains attributed to the giants are of a different character and probably of a later date. In some places, however, a mound similar to those often connected with fairies is associated with a giant, as is the case at Sessay parish, near Thirsk,[A] and at Fyfield in Wiltshire. The chambered tumulus at Luckington is spoken of as the Giant’s Caves, and that at Nempnet in Somersetshire as the Fairy’s Toot. In Denmark, tumuli seem to be described indifferently as Zettestuer (Giants’ Chambers) or Troldestuer (Fairies’ Chambers).[B] In “Beowulf” a chambered tumulus is described, in the recesses of which were treasures watched over for three hundred years by a dragon. This barrow was of stone, and the work of giants.

Seah on enta geweorc, Looked on the giant’s work, hu etha stan-bogan, how the stone arches, stapulinn-faeste, on pillars fast,
ece eoreth-reced the eternal earth-house innan healde. held within.

[Footnote A: _Folk Lore_, i. 130.]

[Footnote B: _Flint Chips_, p. 412.]

The mounds have sometimes been made by giants and afterwards inhabited by dwarfs, as in the case of the Nine-hills, already alluded to. In others, they are at the same time inhabited by giants, dwarfs, and others, as in the story of the Dwarf’s Banquet,[A] and still more markedly in the Wunderberg. “The celebrated Wunderberg, or Underberg, on the great moor near Salzburg, is the chief haunt of the Wild-women. The Wunderberg is said to be quite hollow, and supplied with stately palaces, churches, monasteries, gardens, and springs of gold and silver. Its inhabitants, beside the Wild-women, are little men, who have charge of the treasures it contains, and who at midnight repair to Salzburg to perform their devotions in the cathedral; giants, who used to come to the church of Groedich and exhort the people to lead a godly and pious life; and the great Emperor Charles V., with golden crown and sceptre, attended by knights and lords. His grey beard has twice encompassed the table at which he sits, and when it has the third time grown round it, the end of the world and the appearance of the Antichrist will take place.”[B]

[Footnote A: Grimm ap. Keightley, 130.]

[Footnote B: Grimm ap. Keightley, 234.]

In the folk-tales of the Magyars we meet with a still more remarkable confusion between these two classes of beings. Some of the castles described in these stories are inhabited by giants, others by fairies. Again, the giants marry; their wives are fairies, so are their daughters. They had no male issue, as their race was doomed to extermination. They fall in love, and are fond of courting. Near Bikkfalva, in Haromszek, the people still point out the “Lover’s Bench” on a rock where the amorous giant of Csigavar used to meet his sweetheart, the “fairy of Veczeltetoe.”[A]

[Footnote A: _Folk Tales of the Magyars_, p. xxix.]

(6.) Tales of little people are to be found in countries where there never were any Pigmy races. Not to deal with other, and perhaps more debatable districts, we find an excellent example of this in North America. Besides the instances mentioned in the foregoing section, the following may be mentioned. Mr. Leland, speaking of the Un-a-games-suk, or Indian spirits of the rocks and streams, says that these beings enter far more largely, deeply, and socially into the life and faith of the Indians than elves or fairies ever did into those of the Aryan race.[A] In his Algonquin Legends the same author also alludes to small people.

[Footnote A: _Memoirs_, i. 34.]

Dr. Brinton tells me that the Micmacs have tales of similar Pigmies, whom they call Wig[)u]l[)a]d[)u]mooch, who tie people with cords during their sleep, &c. Mr. L.L. Frost, of Susanville, Lassen County, California, tells us how, when he requested an Indian to gather and bring in all the arrow-points he could find, the Indian declared them to be “no good,” that they had been made by the lizards. Whereupon Mr. Frost drew from him the following lizard-story. “There was a time when the lizards were little men, and the arrow-points which are now found were shot by them at the grizzly bear. The bears could talk then, and would eat the little men whenever they could catch them. The arrows of the little men were so small that they would not kill the bears when shot into them, and only served to enrage them.” The Indian could not tell how the little men became transformed into lizards.[A] Again, the Shoshones of California dread their infants being changed by Ninumbees or dwarfs.[B]

[Footnote A: _Folk Lore Journal_, vii. 24.]

[Footnote B: Hartland, _ut supra_, p. 351.]

Finally, every one has read about the Pukwudjies, “the envious little people, the fairies, the pigmies,” in the pages of Longfellow’s “Hiawatha.”[A] It ought to be mentioned that Mr. Leland states that the red-capped, scanty-shirted elf of the Algonquins was obtained from the Norsemen; but if, as he says, the idea of little people has sunk so deeply into the Indian mind, it cannot in any large measure have been derived from this source.[B]

[Footnote A: xviii.]

[Footnote B: _Etrusco Roman Remains_, p. 162.]

(7.) The stunted races whom Mr. MacRitchie considers to have formed the subjects of the fairy legend have themselves tales of little people. This is true especially of the Eskimo, as will have been already noticed, a fact to which my attention was called by Mr. Hartland.

For the reasons just enumerated, I am unable to accept Mr. MacRitchie’s theory as a complete explanation of the fairy question, but I am far from desirous of under-estimating the value and significance of his work. Mr. Tylor, as I have already mentioned, states, in a sentence which may yet serve as a motto for a work on the whole question of the origin of the fairy myth, that “various different facts have given rise to stories of giants and dwarfs, more than one mythic element perhaps combining to form a single legend–a result perplexing in the extreme to the mythological interpreter.”[A] And I think it may be granted that Mr. MacRitchie has gone far to show that one of these mythic elements, one strand in the twisted cord of fairy mythology, is the half-forgotten memory of skulking aborigines, or, as Mr. Nutt well puts it, the “distorted recollections of alien and inimical races.” But it is not the only one. It is far from being my intention to endeavour to deal exhaustively with the difficult question of the origin of fairy tales. Knowledge and the space permissible in an introduction such as this would alike fail me in such a task. It may, however, be permissible to mention a few points which seem to impress themselves upon one in making a study of the stories with which I have been dealing. In the first place, one can scarcely fail to notice how much in common there is between the tales of the little people and the accounts of that underground world, which, with so many races, is the habitation of the souls of the departed. Dr. Callaway has already drawn attention to this point in connection with the ancestor-worship of the Amazulu.[B] He says, “It may be worth while to note the curious coincidence of thought among the Amazulu regarding the Amatongo or Abapansi, and that of the Scotch and Irish regarding the fairies or ‘good people.’ For instance, the ‘good people’ of the Irish have assigned to them, in many respects the same motives and actions as the Amatongo. They call the living to join them, that is, by death; they cause disease which common doctors cannot understand nor cure; they have their feelings, interests, partialities, and antipathies, and contend with each other about the living. The common people call them their friends or people, which is equivalent to the term _abakubo_ given to the Amatongo. They reveal themselves in the form of the dead, and it appears to be supposed that the dead become ‘good people,’ as the dead among the Amazulu become Amatongo; and in funeral processions of the ‘good people’ which some have professed to see, are recognised the forms of those who have just died, as Umkatshana saw his relatives amongst the Abapansi. The power of holding communion with the ‘good people’ is consequent on an illness, just as the power to divine amongst the natives of this country. So also in the Highland tales, a boy who had been carried away by the fairies, on his return to his own home speaks of them as ‘our folks,’ which is equivalent to _abakwetu_, applied to the Amatongo, and among the Highlands they are called the ‘good people’ and ‘the folk.’ They are also said to ‘live underground,’ and are therefore Abapansi or subterranean. They are also, like the Abapansi, called ancestors. Thus the Red Book of Clanranald is said not to have been dug up, but to have been found on the moss; it seemed as if the ancestors sent it.” There are other points which make in the same direction. The soul is supposed by various races to be a little man, an idea which at once links the manes of the departed with Pigmy people. Thus Dr. Nansen tells us that amongst the Eskimo a man has many souls. The largest dwell in the larynx and in the left side, and are tiny men about the size of a sparrow. The other souls dwell in other parts of the body, and are the size of a finger-joint.[C] And the Macusi Indians[D] believe that although the body will decay, “the man in our eyes” will not die, but wander about; an idea which is met with even in Europe, and which perhaps gives us a clue to the conception of smallness in size of the shades of the dead. Again, the belief that the soul lives near the resting-place of its body is widespread, and at least comparable with, if not equivalent to, the idea that the little people of Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, and India live in the sepulchral mounds or cromlechs of those countries. Closely connected with this is the idea of the underground world, peopled by the souls of the departed like the Abapansi, the widespread nature of which idea is shown by Dr. Tylor. “To take one example, in which the more limited idea seems to have preceded the more extensive, the Finns,[E] who feared the ghost of the departed as unkind, harmful beings, fancied them dwelling with their bodies in the grave, or else, with what Castren thinks a later philosophy, assigned them their dwelling in the subterranean Tuonela. Tuonela was like this upper earth; the sun shone there, there was no lack of land and water, wood and field, tilth and meadow; there were bears and wolves, snakes and pike, but all things were of a hurtful, dismal kind; the woods dark and swarming with wild beasts, the water black, the cornfields bearing seed of snake’s teeth; and there stern, pitiless old Tuoni, and his grim wife and son, with the hooked fingers with iron points, kept watch and ward over the dead lest they should escape.”

[Footnote A: _Primitive Culture_, i. 388.]

[Footnote B: _Religious System of the Amazulu_, p. 226.]

[Footnote C: Nansen, _ut supra_, p. 227.]

[Footnote D: Tylor, _ut supra_, i. 431.]

[Footnote E: Tylor, _ut supra_, ii. 80.]

It is impossible not to see a connection between such conceptions as these and the underground habitations of the little people entered by the green mound which covered the bones of the dead. But the underground world was not only associated with the shades of the departed; it was in many parts of the world the place whence races had their origin, and here also we meet in at least one instance known to me with the conception of a little folk. A very widespread legend in Europe, and especially in Scandinavia, according to Dr. Nansen, tells how the underground or invisible people came into existence. “The Lord one day paid a visit to Eve as she was busy washing her children. All those who were not yet washed she hurriedly hid in cellars and corners and under big vessels, and presented the others to the Visitor. The Lord asked if these were all, and she answered ‘Yes;’ whereupon He replied, ‘Then those which are _dulde_ (hidden) shall remain _hulde_ (concealed, invisible). And from them the huldre-folk are sprung.”[A] There is also the widespread story of an origin underground, as amongst the Wasabe, a sub-gens of the Omahas, who believe that their ancestors were made under the earth and subsequently came to the surface.[B] There is a similar story amongst the Z[=u]nis of Western New Mexico. In journeying to their present place of habitation, they passed through four worlds, all in the interior of this, the passage way from darkness to light being through a large reed. From the inner world they were led by the two little war-gods, Ah-ai-[=u]-ta and M[=a]-[=a]-s[=e]-we, twin brothers, sons of the Sun, who were sent by the Sun to bring this people to his presence.[C] From these stories it would appear that the underground world, whether looked upon as the habitation of the dead or the place of origination of nations, is connected with the conception of little races and people. That it is thus responsible for some portion of the conception of fairies seems to me to be more than probable.

[Footnote A: Nansen, _ut supra_, p. 262.]

[Footnote B: Dorset, _Omaha Sociology. American Bureau of Ethnology_, iii. 211.]

[Footnote C: Stevenson, _Religious Life of Zuni Child. American Bureau of Ethnology_, v. 539.]

It is hardly necessary to allude to those spirits which animistic ideas have attached amongst other objects and places, to trees and wells. They are fully dealt with in Dr. Tylor’s pages, and must not be forgotten in connection with the present question.

To sum up, then, it appears as if the idea, so widely diffused, of little, invisible, or only sometimes visible, people, is of the most complex nature. From the darkness which shrouds it, however, it is possible to discern some rays of light. That the souls of the departed, and the underground world which they inhabit, are largely responsible for it, is, I hope, rendered probable by the facts which I have brought forward. That animistic ideas have played an important part in the evolution of the idea of fairy peoples, is not open to doubt. That to these conceptions were superadded many features really derived from the actions of aboriginal races hiding before the destroying might of their invaders, and this not merely in these islands, but in many parts of the world, has been, I think, demonstrated by the labours of the gentleman whose theory I have so often alluded to. But the point upon which it is desired to lay stress is that the features derived from aboriginal races are only one amongst many sources. Possibly they play an important part, but scarcely, I think, one so important as Mr. MacRitchie would have us believe.



Wherein it will appear that they were all either APES or MONKEYS; and not MEN, as formerly pretended.

By Edward Tyson M.D.

A Philological Essay Concerning the PYGMIES OF THE ANCIENTS.

Having had the Opportunity of Dissecting this remarkable Creature, which not only in the _outward shape_ of the Body, but likewise in the structure of many of the Inward Parts, so nearly resembles a Man, as plainly appears by the _Anatomy_ I have here given of it, it suggested the Thought to me, whether this sort of _Animal_, might not give the Foundation to the Stories of the _Pygmies_ and afford an occasion not only to the _Poets_, but _Historians_ too, of inventing the many Fables and wonderful and merry Relations, that are transmitted down to us concerning them? I must confess, I could never before entertain any other Opinion about them, but that the whole was a _Fiction_: and as the first Account we have of them, was from a _Poet_, so that they were only a Creature of the Brain, produced by a warm and wanton Imagination, and that they never had any Existence or Habitation elsewhere.

In this Opinion I was the more confirmed, because the most diligent Enquiries of late into all the Parts of the inhabited World, could never discover any such _Puny_ diminutive _Race_ of _Mankind_. That they should be totally destroyed by the _Cranes_, their Enemies, and not a Straggler here and there left remaining, was a Fate, that even those _Animals_ that are constantly preyed upon by others, never undergo. Nothing therefore appeared to me more Fabulous and Romantick, than their _History_, and the Relations about them, that _Antiquity_ has delivered to us. And not only _Strabo_ of old, but our greatest Men of Learning of late, have wholly exploded them, as a mere _figment_; invented only to amuse, and divert the Reader with the Comical Narration of their Atchievements, believing that there were never any such Creatures in Nature.

This opinion had so fully obtained with me, that I never thought it worth the Enquiry, how they came to invent such Extravagant Stories: Nor should I now, but upon the Occasion of Dissecting this _Animal_: For observing that ’tis call’d even to this day in the _Indian_ or _Malabar_ Language, _Orang-Outang_, i.e. a _Man_ of the _Woods_, or _Wild-men_; and being brought from _Africa_, that part of the World, where the _Pygmies_ are said to inhabit; and it’s present _Stature_ likewise tallying so well with that of the _Pygmies_ of the Ancients; these Considerations put me upon the search, to inform my self farther about them, and to examine, whether I could meet with any thing that might illustrate their _History_. For I thought it strange, that if the whole was but a meer Fiction, that so many succeeding Generations should be so fond of preserving a _Story_, that had no Foundation at all in Nature; and that the _Ancients_ should trouble themselves so much about them. If therefore I can make out in this _Essay_, that there were such _Animals_ as _Pygmies_; and that they were not a _Race_ of _Men_, but _Apes_; and can discover the _Authors_, who have forged all, or most of the idle Stories concerning them; and shew how the Cheat in after Ages has been carried on, by embalming the Bodies of _Apes_, then exposing them for the _Men_ of the Country, from whence they