“Priroda i chelovek” (Nature and man)
1993, ¹3, pp.39-41
Get acquainted with Siberian Relict Hominoid
Translated and prepared for Web by Michael Trachtengerts
Introduction by D.Bayanov, 1993
Georgy Sidorov collects data about relict hominoids (RH) in Siberia during last 15 years. He graduated from Tomsk university and worked long time in one of Siberian natural reserves. Now he is a school teacher of geography and biology in Yakutia (Sakha). The author knows the nature of Siberia and the native peoples quite well. Because of this material presented by him is of peculiar importance.
His data about hominoid food in severe environment of the Siberian North are interesting and valuable. We definitely know that hominoid is omnivorous like brown bear. Our wild hairy relative can find livelihood in every place where this hardy animal lives. The information by Sidorov shows that relict hominoid surpasses bears in omnivorousness with eating lichens and Iceland moss that is a reindeer forage. We already knew, that lichens are mentioned in a diet of Himalayan yeti, so they as food of Siberian hominoid are biologically expected even more. The author tells how hominoid hunts ungulates. He also tells about dwellings attributed to the creatures. As far as I know, such data are obtained for the first time, and we already have independent confirmation by I.A.Khatkovsky about a similar sort of hominoid dwelling in Republic Sakha. We welcome advice of the author to look for contact with the creatures as we also aspired to it. It is pleasant to understand, that in Siberia we now have so thorough colleague.
Native peoples of Siberia ¾ Khants, Selcups, Nenetzs, Yukagirs, and Russian old residents, etc. ¾ are reluctant to introduce newcomers in secrets of their past. It is often simply impossible for new visitors to talk with them and to hear their narration. Everything, that concerns to their beliefs, shamanism, or “Master of taiga”, is the firm taboo for curious ones.
Because of that it is very difficult to investigate our task. Nevertheless, when the locals had got enough familiar with us and felt themselves as equal, the matter usually was solved without any difficulty. The only thing we were sometimes asked about was to hide their original names. When it is possible I show names of my informants.
Some information that I received from narrators about hominoid diet caused my feeling of bewilderment and even mistrust to informants. For example, for a long time I could not understand, what hominoid could find in licking of a stone, particularly in the winter. Some locals on Middle Ural mountains said that the hairy man not only licks stones, but also eats them... This all cleared to be simple. Some people were found who told me that the wild man eats lichens growing on stones. I was also told by Russian old dwellers which saw “Bolshak” (The Big One ¾ one of names for hominoid among Russian Siberians) and even tested its food. They stated that the food is eatable. I tried it too and have agreed with them.
Except for mountain lichens, my informants said that Maigiki (the Khant name for hominoid) eats with pleasure the lichens descending from tree branches and a kind of moss. According to L.P.Kaukov Maigikis first of all put moss into water stream for some time and then eat it. They consume the moss in plenty, especially in the spring.
All informants in Western Siberia (Komi, Mansi, Khants, Nenetzs, Selcups, Evenks from Tomsk and Sim regions, and Russian old residents) tell that hominoids come to cedar forests when cedar nuts ripe. For example, B.L.Likhachev's family, that lived at 1968 in Verkhne-Ketsky part of Tomsk region, had met in cedar forest three “Chuluks” ¾ mother and two children. They ate nuts. The woman, who was as large as a big bear, shook thin cedars, and children gathered nuts.
The shaggy mysterious creature eats also various berries. It eats, as all informers tell, also meat. It digs out lemmings and mice, other small animals, eats fish and eggs of birds, and even hunts large mammals.
PLACES OF DWELLING, THE WAY OF LIFE
Data that I have show that relict hominoids follow the way of life which somewhat differs from speculations of some researchers. They are usually considered to be regular wanderers. But often it is not so. For example, old residents from Middle and Northern Ural Mountains believed, that “The Big One” is the steady inhabitant of mountains. Reindeer breeders and hunters there consider, that mountains are native lands of hominoid and he goes to down lands in the spring and returns at the late autumn. Some of the hunters have opinion that this creature in the winter lives in caves. In times of severe frosts he sleeps similarly to bears and in periods of warm weather (very seldom) he wanders in searche of lichens or pursues ungulates. It is interesting that Komi reindeer breeders when a conversation comes to Yag-mort (the hominoid name in Komi region), persistently point out on mountains.
West-Siberian hominoids ¾ Maigiki and Kul ¾ are very similar to their Ural cousin. They are huge too, very mobile, and follow way of life in twilight. But, according to Nenetzs, Khants, and Selcups, the shaggy giants are lowland steady dwellers that roam among lakes and swamplands.
Collecting legends about ancient conflicts between Khants and Selcups, I have found a cycle of legends about Maigikis. According to them “Iron men” ¾ Selcups ¾ were kind to Maigikis. They gave them food and warmer places in winter. In return Maigikis guarded holy places of Selcups. In fights between Khants and Selcups Maigikis always were on the side of Selcups. Terrible shouts of Maigikis warned about approach of enemies, but they did not participate in fights and hide in woods.
There is a legend that Ermak (the conqueror of Siberia) had fights with “Forest Peoples”.
After Selcups were defeated by Russians and gone away from river Ob to river Taz, Maigikis met rainy days. From that time new legends from there narrate how Khants murdered Maigikis. They used hidden bows with arrows, dug out covered holes, shot them at swimming across river Ob, and the like. But Maigikis were not extinguished completely, a part of them have disappeared in bogs and far taiga where Khants could not pursue them. In addition, as old men told me, Russian authorities had forbidden killing of “Forest Peoples”. From that time a third kind of legends about new peace time between Khants and Maigikis appears. Maigikis sometimes help Khants in hunting and Khants share with them a part of meat.
Chuluk (the local name around river Yenisei) is exactly similar to his cousin from Ural Mountains or from coasts of river Ob. According to reindeer breeders, he is also a meat-eater and hunts deer. In Evenk settlement Surinda, where I have lived about a year, I was told about those times when Evenk knights arranged to hunt Chuluks ¾ the devourers of deer. Nowadays many consider, that Chuluks are extinct. But some of reindeer breeders doubt of it, and they have reasons for it. Sometimes in the summer, and more often in the autumn, someone destroys fences in taiga where domestic deer grazed. When the fence is broken by a bear or an elk, their tracks are always available. On contrary, sometimes a fence was not broken, and disassembled by someone's hands. The part of deer was gone, and tracks of the thief were not found.
It is necessary to note, that inhabitants of Evenk native district try to decline from conversation about Chuluks. They either simply keep silence, or tell a fairy tales on this subject. In their opinion, it is not a sin to tell a fairy tale, but it is taboo to share with what occurs nowadays. I formed an impression, that the people there had superstitious fear on the hairy giant. When in the autumn of 1986 I have appeared in front of mysteriously disassembled fence in Surindinski reindeer-breeding farm, the breeders that stood beside were silent, some others said words in whisper. In other case, when the fence was broken by an elk, people loudly abused the animal and threatened to it. So, in these cases peoples behave in different ways.
The information that I have collected about mysterious Chuchuna of Yakutia is still rather small. He was told about by Yakuts, reindeer breeders and hunters Evenks, and Russian old residents also. Several times I heard about unique speed of Chuchuna running. It was told, for example, how Chuchuna hunts wild reindeer. He very carefully, on all fours, creeps to a herd, than jumps and runs a short distance with speed of an arrow. He manages to caught a deer for its horns or for a head and breaks its neck by sharp shake. Sometimes Chuchuna pursues also young elks, but he does not touch big animals. Chuchunas in Western Yakutia as big as Chuluks and Maigiki. There is very little information still about his way of life. The one side of it is now clear ¾ the hominoid is a visitor to Yakutian tundra. He comes there from taiga in the spring, as a rule, following wild deer and leaves tundra back to taiga in the autumn.
When located by a man on an open place, Chuchuna tries to escape under vegetation or in a swamps. According to some people tales, Chuchuna stays winters on highlands between bogs and lakes where he digs out a hole in the ground. Local residents speak about him as real creature, but extremely rare.
In Eastern Yakutia lives another kind of similar creatures. He is mainly the dweller of mountains. Evenks call him Pikelyan, though Yakuts use for him name Chuchuna also, and Yukagirs call him Shegoshui-shomer. Pikelyan is not a giant, he is as high as average human and only sometimes higher. He is very mobile and well adapted for life in mountains.
Old men would not speak about the creature with newcomers. A main information from northeastern Yakutia I gathered basically from youth, but young men know very little about this subject. There appeared an impression, that old Evens have superstitious fear from Pikelyan and it is transferred also to younger reindeer breeders. It helps to explain stories of such kind: Pikelyan takes away killed snow leopard or young deer and drags it in a cave or other place, but the hunter always permits him to do so.
In spite of the fact that I am engaged in gathering of information about the mysterious hairy creatures for 15 years, my knowledge in this field is still rather moderate. I am sure, that serious investigations are necessary. In my opinion, it is necessary to search for contact to these creatures. For success of it the researchers should live for a long time in places where probability of encounter with the shaggy giants exists, instead of practice to appear there from time to time. By no means the researcher should impose himself to hominoid ¾ supervision should be conducted from distance with gradual approach. It would be much better, when the creature himself will start to search for contact with you. It is necessary always to remember that the giant is very cautious and mistrustful to humans.
The investigations have led me to a conclusion, that there are two populations of hominoids in Siberia, which can be races also. They are ¾ the western race of giants that reach two meters high and more, and east mountain race with exemplars about human high, but well adapted for life in mountains.
Republic Sakha in the RF