THE CHINESE HUNT FOR THEIR OWN YETI
|January 23, 2003|
From 1924, year in which the first sighting was recorded, more than 360 people say they have seen the legendary being in 110 different areas of the Shennongjia mountains (province of Hubei), and although the scientists have still not managed to prove the creature's existence, the long delay could end this year.
Zhang Jixing, head of the investigating group that has been carrying out the search for three decades, says that 2003 will be a historical moment when their equipment will confirm to them whether or not the man-monkey of Shennongjia - known in China as "Yeren" - exists or not.
The scientists commanded by Zhang have gathered more than 2,000 presumed tracks of Yeren, along with reddish hairs, blood samples and excrement with which he is hoping to explain if the man-monkey exists or not, aside from knowing exactly if it is a human animal or not.
Already in 2002, a laboratory in the U.S.A. studied some of the samples and indicated that they belonged to an animal unknown until then, genetically closer to a human being than to primates and what is stranger, "with characteristics more similar to those of Western Man than that of Chinese".
In his test[?] "Wild Men of the contemporary imagination", the expert Fernando Jorge Soto describes the Yeren as being like a presumed Gigantopithecus [Great Ape], described by the witnesses as "a man-monkey, with reddish hair, between 1.50 and 1.80 meters in height" and covered in hair all over the body except the eyes, hands and feet.
The Yeren - from "ye", savage in Chinese, and "they ren", person - walks raised but a little bent, and some witnesses affirm that he is able to swim, which would differentiate him from many other primates except man.
Also they affirm that the creature's feet are enormous, which is similar to another mythical man, the Bigfoot or North American Sasquatch. The villagers of the area, mainly members of the ethnic groups Miao and Tujia, think that some of the Yeren are humans who have devolved towards primates.
Others believe that the man-monkey of Shennongjia is a primate that is undergoing a very similar evolution to that of human beings who lived millions of years ago.
All these theories are not taken seriously by the scientific community, but many ordinary Chinese choose to vacation in the mountains in order to try and be the first in taking a photo of the Yeren.
The governors of the province, on the other hand, believe blindly in the existence of the mythical being and have created a special administration,the Provincial Office for the Search of the Wild Man.
In fact, there are many areas of the world that have their own "particular wild man", from the Great Yeti and Pies [sic] to the AM Fear Liath Mor [Big Grey Man] of Scotland, the Orang-Pendek, Indonesia (according to the scientists, living "homo erectus") and the Australian Yowie, of 2.25 meters.
Latin America is an "especially abundant" place for these beings, because almost
each country has the his own: it is the Shiru of Colombia, the Venezuelan
Vasitri, the Xipe of Nicaragua, the Tarma sighted by the Indians in Peru
or the Mapinguary of the Amazon.
In the Shennongjia mountains, for example, a strange coincidence occurs in which there is a great abundance of animals of a white color: bears, red deer, rats, serpents and monkeys - albinos populate the area (also people have seen a white "Yeren").
The most peculiar tree of the area also is white, davidia or "tree dove", that when it is rocked by the wind seems to have in its branches hundreds of these birds.
Also the customs of the Tujia people are very peculiar, in one of the towns that is in the zone the weddings are as sad as the funerals: the women are forced to cry to live tears during the ceremony, to express the sadness that caused them to leave childhood and their familiar home.
The same name of Shennongjia means 'magician', since it comes from an old Chinese legend of Shennong, the legendary emperor, who for a thousands of years, thought that he had invented Chinese traditional medicine.
One tale says that the emperor rested there when he traveled in search of the 100 plants that are used in medicinal prescriptions, a reason why the place happened to be known as "the stop along the way of Shennong", and that is the meaning of the Chinese word "Shennongjia".
Story originally published
by and © El Imparcial, Sonora, Mexico Jan 20, 2003