February 6, 2011

Bigfoot, Yeti and the Wild Men Archetype

There are some obvious parallels between the North American Bigfoot and the Himalayan Yeti, despite the two legendary creatures being separated by thousands of miles and the largest ocean on the planet.Both creatures have been described by many witnesses as being ape-like, taller than at least most if not all humans and being elusive to contact with most humans. More parallels between the two creatures exist, but I will not bore all of you with a long list.

Interestingly, the Eskimos have tales of a creature they call Saumen Kar, or "Man of Snow." Saumen Kar tales have a striking resemblance to Yeti, especially since both are snow-bound.

Why do the tales of Bigfoot and Yeti endure to this day? Entire organizations have been created, dedicated to proving their existence, academics have spent a good portion of their careers studying supposed evidence and collecting eyewitness accounts of encounters with the creatures and numerous books have been written about both.

One possible explanation has to do with the existence of wild-men stories in the lore from many civilizations, including the Celts, Native American groups and the early Mesopotamia region. These wild men are always described as hairy and savage and often are larger than most humans, adding to the fear and wonder that swirls around the wild men tales.While Bigfoot and Yeti are said to not really engage humans, these wild men are marauders who will take goods, crops, animals and even people's lives. Perhaps our wild men who live in fear, hiding in the shadows where they do not dare to assault us say something about us as a society.

Just because we shape the tales surrounding Bigfoot and Yeti does not necessarily mean that they do not exist. What I am arguing is that the way that we view these creatures tells an awful lot about us and our values.