Tuesday, May 29, 2012

British Journalist continues to bring us Yeti news from Russia

Illustration of a Shurale, a creature of similar description to the Yeti
"From 1960 to 1980, evidence grew up there of large red-haired ape-men, sometimes in family groups, being encountered by the locals." -- Edward Crabtree of The Kazan Herald

Based in Russia, The Kazan Herald is Tatarstan’s first and only English-language newspaper. Founded in May 2010, the newspaper is a trusted source of objective coverage and quality analysis of news, business, arts, opinion, sports, and tourism in Kazan and Tatarstan.

Fortunately for us, they have a British journalist, Edward Crabtree, who lives in Kazan and is very interested in the Yeti legends and relic hominid research.

You may remember Crabtree from his previous posts earlier this year, Shurale — A Tatar Yeti? and Russian Snowman (Yeti) Riddle Continues.

In his third article for The Kazan Herald he describes a story, translated for the first time, of a group of red-haired ape-men visiting a village in western Russia for over two decades

Why I’ll Keep Watching the Woods

By Edward Crabtree28 May 2012

Since I first waded into the controversy surrounding the presence (or absence), of unclassified man-like apes within the Russian Federation, some promising new leads have emerged in the field.

Algorithm, a Moscow Publishing house, have recently released a collection of writings by the late Soviet yeti hunter Boris Porshnyev (for more on him, see “The Russian Snowman Riddle Continues”). Entitled “The Enigma of the Snowmen: Contemporary Questions of Relict Hominids,” it is something of a weighty tome – all of it of course in Russian. My guess is that it contains much information which is likely to remain untranslated for Westerners for some time to come.

What I have been able to get translated, however, is a news story in a weekly magazine devoted to the mysterious (N.L.O – Unbelievable Legendary Evidence, March 12 no.5).The headline is “The Yeti of Malaya Vishyeva.” This eerie piece focuses on Novgorod Oblast in North-western Russia. Malaya Vishyeva is a sparsely populated village which is to this day hard to access being surrounded by marshland and dense forest. From1960 to 1980, evidence grew up there of large red-haired ape-men, sometimes in family groups, being encountered by the locals. Then in 2003 some footprints were found there. This spurred on the snowman advocate and St Petersburg academic Valentin Sapunov to do a field study of this region (his articles on the subject can be viewed here). There he came across apparent teeth marks in trees which were too far above ground level to be made by known animals.

The article relates of how there had been a tradition of “white eyed wonders” supposedly dwelling in the forests of that area, as told by the Finno-Ugric tribes that lived in the region up to the 6th Century. Indeed, whilst the concept “snyeshni chyelovek,” or snowman, first originated in a Russian newspaper in 1908, Russian folk culture has long been choc-a-bloc with wood goblin myths, from the Vors of the Komi people to the Pitsen of the Bashkirs. Our local equivalent in Tatarstan is “Shurale,” the semi-malevolent forest ghost who emerges in the twilight hours of spring and summer. The fact that he has been immortalised by a poem by Gabdulla Tukay and ballet can make us forget that he is often a frightening figure in Tatar stories. So, is the modern yeti just a reframing of an age-old bogeyman?

To answer this question we have to go far back in time. The first written report of an Asian wild-man was made in 1430. It is in the memoirs of a German nobleman who had no previous knowledge of the relevant folklore and, obviously, lived long before the yeti was the mass media icon that it now is. Hans Schiltenberger, travelling through Mongolia, was captured by the Mongols of the Golden Horde. From them he learnt of wild men who lived in the mountains and who “had nothing in common with ordinary human beings.” So perhaps, after all, these forest demons conceal an embellished memory of an anthropological fact.

There is, nevertheless, a legion of naysayers who will not admit of any stories or eyewitness claims as being of any value as evidence. “Find me a body of one of these monkey-men,” they say. “Then I’ll take you seriously.” A handy riposte to this can be found in this April’s issue of the Russian paranormal magazine, “Twentieth Century Secrets” in an article entitled “Is the Yeti From Another Dimension?” Those not quite ready to invoke fairyland to explain away the missing bodies can gain succour from the history of the classification of the Giant Panda. The West first learnt of this legendary creature’s existence in 1869, but the first Westerner to see a live one did so in 1906. It was not until 1936 that Ruth Harkness first took the first live panda back to the West. So, from a Western point of view, there was over a 70-year hiatus before the discovery of this large animal and its eventual capture. Bigfoot and Yeti research, on the other hand, has only been in existence for less than sixty years.

In the meantime, while a full-scale body may not have been produced, there has indeed been some other flesh-and-blood evidence which, whilst less sensational, cannot be lightly brushed aside. In 2009, the American television adventurer Joshua Gates returned from Nepal and Bhutan with some hairs from a suspected Yeti. These were duly forensically probed by a respected DNA testing laboratory called Diagnostics Inc. in Texas. The results? The hairs showed up as belonging to an “unknown sequence” which was close to human, but not human as we know it….

At this point the sceptics sit back and recite a list of Scooby-Doo style frauds and set ups as long as a yeti’s arm. These do indeed muddy the waters. Only last December we were greeted by the too-good-to-be true news from the Ingushetia Republic in the Russian Federation: a live snowman had been captured! The television interviews which followed seemed to be tongue-in-cheek and it did not take long for most to become aware that this was a money raising stunt. Perhaps the fact that any money made was to go towards a local orphanage mitigated things a bit, but this sort of superciliousness is not that uncommon and confines yeti news to the tabloid press.

It is at this point that I am reminded of a quotation from Arthur C. Clarke, the British science fiction writer. Clarke was a connoisseur of the unexplained, but also a scientist. Speaking on the Loch Ness Monster, that legendary creature from my own country, he said: “On Tuesdays and Thursdays I believe in the Loch Ness Monster.” He was hedging his bets then, but, as any gambler can tell you, two out of seven is not such bad odds.

SRC: KazanHerald.com

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