After the discovery of America, its vast and inexplored area was the source of many myths: the fountain of youth, the golden cities of Eldorado, Ciudad de los Césares and Cibola. The tribe of warrior women, the Amazons, and the land where Jesus' brother, Saint Thomas had come to preach....
Mysterious creatures were described all over the continent, some were distorted accounts of actual real creatures, others were totally imaginary, others remain unknown until today, maybe they described creatures now extinct (like the Patagonian "succarath").
Today we will review one of them.
The Peruvian Apeman
Enea Vico (1523 - 1567), an Italian engraver whose speciality was depicting weird creatures wrote a book (Recueil de la diversité des habits qui sont de present en visages tantes pays d’europe, Asie, Afrique et illes sauvages. Le tout fait apres de natural), in French, which was published in París in 1562. It dealt with the odd things found around the world, and, among them, a strange American creature. His drawing is shown below:
As can be seen in the image above, this "ape" was quite singular: it wore clothes. We know that clothing is an exclusive attribute of mankind. Of all animals, only human beings weare clothes. The fact that it is dressed makes this ape quite unusual.
Vico wrote: "... pres le Peru par effect le voit on, Dieu a donné au Singe tel forme. Vestu dejonc, s'appuyant d'un baston, estat debout, chose aux homes coforme." .
As it is written in ancient French, my translation is rather rudimentary, but nevertheless, here it is:" Close to Peru they have seen an ape that God has given this shaped. It is dressed and supports itself on a walking stick, it stands upright, in a man-like manner."
The image that illustrated the text shows a bipedal ape-like man wearing a cloack and some clothes woven from rushes, carrying a walking stick. The word "singe" which Vico uses is also significant. It does not mean monkey, it means "Ape" or "large Primate".
Last year I ran a series of posts on South American Wild Men, but had not included Vico's ape-man.
You may have already guessed that I am inclined to believe that it may actually represent a (then) extant group of Neanderthals (they would have been considered wild men by the locals, and would also have worn clothes).
Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall ©