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Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Similar myths between Patagonians and Australians


Some Patagonian Natives' myths that are very similar to those found in Australia, among the Aboriginal people.


As I mention further down, the human mind whether modern or archaic, Aboriginal, Chinese or Patagonian has a rather limited set of emotions or feelings to deal with. So fear is usually elicited by means of monsters, man-eating ogres, creatures from the dark, living-dead and son on. It should not surprise us to find giants, dwarves,trolls, lake creatures and all kinds of monsters that have their equivalent in different parts of the world. They were all "invented" by the "limited" human mind.


Having said this, people with a common origin share traditions, which in the very distant past were the glue that kept clans or tribe together. They were passed on from father to son, mother do daughter over countless generations and have survived until this day. A clear example is Little Red Riding Hood, which struck fear into us when we were children: a man-eating (or better said, a "granny-eating") wolf in a forest! How many of us have seen a real live wolf? Very few. Maybe on a documentary on Alaska or Canada, but never in the wild.


But the story is based on real facts: forests are dangerous, wolves exist and careless children may fall prey to them (or other strangers) or worse, also cause trouble to their kin.


So below are some of these shared myths:


Tehuelche native myths from Patagonia


I copy pasted from my book, I have added some comments to give context, in brackets "[]":


"Yiakelon she- ­ghosts. These ghost­ women dwelled among the cracks of the cliffs and escarpments and bear an amazing similarity to the Australian Aboriginal belief in ‘Mimi’, who were tall slim mischievous beings that also lived among the rocky crags. The Aboriginals believed that before their arrival to Australia, Mimi had human shape and taught men how to hunt, cook, talk, sing and also, to paint the rocks (note the extraordinary similarity with Elal). Once again we have a myth relating both cultures, Australian and Patagonian; if it is a coincidence, it is striking...


"...The creature described by Falkner [comment: among the Guarani natives in Paraguay] is surprisingly similar to the Iemisch [among the Tehuelche of Patagonia]; no wonder Musters quickly identified the Patagonian water tiger with it. A Guaraní legend about Guarán,the native warrior who slayed Yaguarú, provides some interesting details about the beast, not only did it live in a cave by the river bank but it also had a strong tail and a taste for women’s flesh, it was also foul smelling just like Ayayema, Kawtcho, Mapinguari and the dwarfish Chupacabras. [several Amerindian monsters]
A Pan-Gondwanan beast? A similar mythical creature, an amalgam of giant otter and feline, is said to live in New Zealand, the ‘Waitoreke’ —Maori for “water animal with spurs”. The Australian Aboriginals also had their equivalent water monster, the foul smelling ‘Bunyip’. This may reveal once again possible ancient cultural ties between Australoids and southern South American natives, or maybe the repetition of similar themes across dissimilar and totally unrelated human cultures; perhaps we humans have a limited repertoire of fears and they tend to crop up again and again in our myths. It may also indicate that the former super continent of Gondwana was home to a strange water creature...


Selk'nam myths from Tierra del Fuego


"... at the dawn of time, during the mythical era of the ‘Hoowin’, the legendary ancestors of the Selk’nam [lived]. Once again, this bears a striking similarity with the Australian Aboriginals’ belief that all things began with the Dreamtime; a sacred era out of time in which ancestral Totemic Spirit Beings formed the creation."


The Hoowin was a time that preceded us, the world was peopled by the Sun, Moon, stars, snow, wind, sea, all of them very powerful witches. Then the modern world formed, many of these creatures turned into animals, mountains, lakes and the sea... humans were created out of this mysterious ancestral Hoowin world.


Hoowin is very similar to the Dreamtime, an "everywhen", a "time out of time" which was peopled by the ancestors of Australian Aboriginals, who had supernatural abilities and lived in this Dream Time that preceded creation...


"Fascinatingly, the Australian Aboriginal people also have legends about wild hairy pigmies that they called Gubba; these are very similar to the Fuegian Yosi in appearance and size, being barely one meter tall (3 ft 4 in).
...The Aboriginals, besides ‘Gubba’ that was akin to the Fuegian Yosi, also recognized another large wild hominid, the ‘Yowie’ or “great hairy man” that killed and ate people. Some Australian researchers such as Gilroy, Cropper and Healy believe that Yowie is a Homo erectus, a human ancestor which became extinct worldwide when modern man, Homo sapiens, moved out of Africa. According to them, it somehow managed to survive in Australia long enough to coexist with men.In the Australian case, it is reasonable to assume H. erectus habitation prior to modern humans, because its remains ve been found close by, in neighboring Indonesia. This could imply that the Patagonians’ ancestors, the Australoids, could have encountered H. erectus in Austronesia and brought it with them as their ‘hairy men’ myths when migrating to America...
"


I also explained the Austronesian hypothesis as follows:


"The Austronesian hypothesis
All these Patagonians, were quite different from the rest of South American natives; this has been revealed by a study of their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This type of DNA is maternally inherited and allows researchers to trace the maternal lineage back in time and to establish connections between groups of people based on differences in their mtDNA. mtDNA taken from skeletons of the now extinct Yagan, Selk’nam and Alakaluf populations as well as Aonikenk Tehuelche show that they, from a genetic viewpoint, were different from all other American natives (including the Mapuche in northern Patagonia). It is noteworthy that the skeletal remains of Fuegians, the Patagonian natives and their Paleo­Indian ancestors also depart from the typical Mongoloid pattern found in other American Indian (Amerindian) groups such as the Mapuche. Both lines of evidence suggest that there may have been more than one migratory wave of Asian people ancestral to the American natives. It may also be possible that the ancestors of all the Patagonian PaleoIndians came in an independent migration long before the arrival of the ‘Clovis people’. The Clovis had entered the continent through Bering Strait via Alaska about 13,500 years BP. They are considered as the Americas’ first inhabitants (hence the ‘Clovis­ first’ model) yet, southern South America, which according to the Clovis first model should be the last part of the continent to be occupied by humans, seems to have sites as old as or even older than the Clovis sites found in North America. Human remains discovered in Brazil show a very strong resemblance to modern South Pacific people, suggesting that America was first colonized by the generalized human (Homo sapiens) population that inhabited East Asia in the Late Pleistocene. These people arrived in America in very ancient times long before the Mongolid morphology of the forbearers of the Clovis had evolved.
They may also be the ancestors of the southern Patagonian Paleo Indians, and their different racial origin and cultural background may have a bearing on the myths and legends of their Tehuelche and Fuegian descendants. It is extremely likely that these first Americans brought with them their own set of ancient tales about strange beings, and gradually adapted them to their new home. There are, as we will see, surprising coincidences between Patagonian and Austronesian myths. It was these original people who forged legends that even today pervade throughout Patagonia.
"


Quotes from A. Whittall, Monsters of Patagonia, Zagier & Urruty.


Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2015 by Austin Whittall © 

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