Wildman of West Asia.
Etymology: Abkhaz (Northwest Caucasian), "forest man" or "shy boy."
Variant names: Bnahua (Abaza/Northwest Caucasian), Ochokochi (Mingrelian/Caucasian).
Physical description: Covered with reddish-black hair. Dark skin. Thick head-hair that hangs down the back like a mane. Low forehead. Eyes with a reddish tinge. Flat nose. High cheekbones. Enormous teeth. Muscular arms and legs. Females have large breasts and buttocks. Fingers long and thick. Splayed feet.
Behavior: Skilled runner and swimmer. No speech but makes muttering noises. Sharp sense of hearing. Food includes grapes, hominy, and meat. Sleeps in a hole in the ground. Can apparently breed successfully with humans. Washes newborn infants in cold-water springs. Uses improvised weapons of sticks and stones. Habitually plays with stones, grinding and smashing them.
Distribution: Caucasus Mountains, Abkhazia Autonomous Republic, Georgia.
Significant sighting: A female Abnauayu, nicknamed "Zana," was captured in the mid-nineteenth century, possibly in Ajaria, Georgia. The nobleman Edgi Genaba took her to his farm near Tkhina in Abkhazia, where she lived until her death in the 1880s or 1890s. At first, she was kept shackled in a strong enclosure; later, as she became tame, Zana was let loose to wander about. She was trained to do simple tasks such as grinding grain and fetching firewood. Zana was survived by two sons and two daughters fathered by local human males; these offspring grew up and became relatively normal citizens. Two of Zana's grandchildren were interviewed by Boris Porshnev in 1964. (One of them, Sha-
likula, was said to have been able to pick up a chair, along with a man sitting on it, with his teeth.) Zana's grave has not been found, but the skeleton of her son Khwit has been exhumed; the skull combines "modern and ancient features," according to a 1987 Russian study. Grover Krantz had an opportunity to examine Khwit's skull, and he says it is a modern Homo sapiens, though with slightly stronger jaws and flaring cheekbones. Possible explanations:
(1) Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) sites are known at Sakhazia and Dzhruchula in Georgia. The large teeth and low forehead are characteristic of these West Asian and European hominids.
(2) Zana's ability to breed successfully with modern humans is intriguing, to say the least, and makes it more likely that she represents an anatomically modern human with some archaic retentions, particularly with regard to lifestyle and material culture. Sources: Boris F. Porshnev, "Bor'ba za
Trogloditov," Prostor (Alma-Ata), 1968, no. 6, pp. 113-116; Bernard Heuvelmans and Boris F. Porshnev, L'homme de Neanderthal est toujours vivant (Paris: Plon, 1974), pp. 171-177; John Colarusso, "Ethnographic Information on a Wild Man of the Caucasus," in Marjorie Halpin and Michael M. Ames, eds., Manlike Monsters on Trial (Vancouver, Canada: University of British Columbia Press, 1980), pp. 255-264; Dmitri Bayanov, In the Footsteps of the Russian Snowman (Moscow: Crypto-Logos, 1996), pp. 46-52; Grover S. Krantz, Bigfoot Sasquatch Evidence (Blaine, Wash.: Hancock House, 1999), p. 210.
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