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Pygmies

feet, inches, hair and african

PYGMIES, the name given by the ancients to a race of dwarfish men reported as existing in various parts of the world. Homer (II. iii, 6) fixes the habitat of the pygmies in the far south land whither the cranes migrate at the approach of winter; after Homer the battles of the cranes and the pygmies are a favorite theme of poets, and are often pictured on vases. Ancient au thors, whether travelers, historians, or miscel lanists, like Herodotus, Ctesias or Pliny, de scribe the pygmmi as little men, the tallest of them not exceeding in height two pygmy (Gr. pygme, a measure of length, the distance from the elbow to the knuckles — less than 14 inches). Herodotus locates his pygmiei in the heart of Africa in a region traversed by a great stream — probably the Niger—flowing from west to east and modern geographical research gives support to his story after it had long passed for fabulous. In recent times the actual existence of pygmies has been ascertained beyond any question, though when Paul B. Du Chaillu (q.v.) in 1861published his 'Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa) his description of the pygmy tribes discovered by him was scouted by scientific men as mere fiction. But when his report was confirmed in every essen tial particular by the missionary Father des Avanchers (1869) by Schweinfurth (1871), by Stanley (1876) arid others, scientific skepticism gave way, grudgingly to conviction of Du Chaillu's good faith. Many different tribes of pygmies are now recognized as existing in the interior of Africa, all possessing these char acteristics: stature ranging from 33 inches to 4 feet 4 inches, as reported of the Wambutti by Stanley: Schlichter makes the average stature 4 feet 6 inches; complexion, from yellowish brown to reddish brown ; usually heavy growth of hair on body and face— a curious item of accordance with the report of Ctesias regarding the pygmaei of India, who had beards and hair so long as to serve for vesture)); retreating fore head; prognathicjaw; fingers long, tapering, and feet strongly arched; in their villages the huts (8 feet long, 5 feet wide, 4 feet high) are clustered round the hut of the chief ; their usual food is vegetable, but they eat almost anything; in hunting they show great intelli gence; one tribe, the Wambutti, devise exceed ngly ingenious nets, nooses and traps for secur ing game great and small.

Three types of pygmies are now recognized: (1) The African pygmies above described; (2) the Island pigymtes of the Philippines, Anda man and the Tapiros, probably of African origin, but mixed breed; (3) the Asiatic pygmies, distinguished by wavy hair, found in the southern portion of the Malay Peninsula, in Celebes, and some Indian jungles. They are taller than the African pygmies and their heads are differently shaped, being dolichocephalic. Consult Wollaston, 'Pygmies and (1912).