Wudewasa

WlLDMAN of Europe, often depicted in medieval art, sculpture, heraldry, drama, pageantry, and allegorical fiction.

Etymology: Old English, "wood man," from wold ("forest") + wasan ("being"). An alternative suggestion is that wasa derives from vu'assar ("from Asia"). The English surnames Wood-house and Wodehouse are said to originate from this word.

Variant names: Callicantzari (Greek), Fangge (in the Alps), Fanke, Green man, Grendel, Gru-agach (Irish), Hazessa (Saxon), Holzmoia (German), Holzwib, Homine agreste, l'Homme sauvage (French), Homo silvestris (Latin), Jehan

Paulu (French), Jehan Pelu, Lamia (Greek), Lorke (in the Tyrol), Noerglein (in the Tyrol), Ogre (French), orco (italian), orke (in the Tyrol), Orson, Ozruti (Slovak), Pilosus (Latin), Salvan (in Lombardy), Salvang, Schrat (Old High German), Scinlac (Anglo-Saxon), Simiot (Catalan), Skogsrâ (Swedish), Tristan de Nanteuil, Walt man, Wild maa, Wildeman (Germany), Wildez with, Wodehouse, Wodemwose, Wodewese, Wodewose, Wodwos, Wodwose, Woodwose, Wudewasan, Wudu wasa, Zruty (Slovak).

Physical description: Humanlike but naked and covered in hair. Some traditions depict a giant; others, especially in Germany, involve humans as short as 2 feet tall. Long head-hair. Female has pendulous breasts. Feet and hands are hairless and humanlike. Sometimes shown with a tail.

Behavior: Eats berries, acorns, and raw meat. Lives in a hollowed-out tree trunk or cave. Carries a club or crude log. Sometimes depicted as wearing a leaf garment. No knowledge of metals or agriculture. Said to abduct women and eat unbaptized infants.

Habitat: Remote forests or mountains.

Distribution: Primarily the Alps and other mountains of Central Europe, though pageantry and artistic depictions percolated throughout the continent. Recent sightings of European Wildmen have occurred in Sweden, Germany, and italy.

Significant sightings: in Chrétien de Troyes's romance Yvain (twelfth century), a knight runs across a giant Wildman in the enchanted forest of Brocéliande in Brittany, France. It is overseeing a fight between two Aurochs (Bos primigenius).

One of the earliest artistic depictions of a Wudéwasa is on the north portal of the mid-thirteenth century church in Semur-en-Auxois, Côte d'Or Department, France, which shows a Wildman holding the arm of a man who is counting money into a sack.

Two different types of Wildmen are featured in terra-cotta carvings from the ruins of a castle on Schlossberg outside Homburg, Saarland State, Germany. One seems to depict a hairy, feral human, while the other type is more apelike, with an upturned nose.

In fifteenth-century France, the "savage man" was personified by the legendary Orson (French, "little bear"), the twin brother of Valentine and son of Bellisant. Carried off and raised by a bear, Orson became known as the "wild man of the forest" when he grew up and was depicted in many contemporary illustrations.

On August 18, 1644, Elector Johann Georg I of Saxony captured a 2-foot-tall female near Chemnitz, Germany.

In 1691, a young man in Sweden was accused of having sexual relations with a Skogsra, or Wild woman, and condemned to death.

Several hairy Wild women were seen in the neighborhood of Groditsch, Brandenburg State, Germany, around 1735.

In November 1938, two apes or monkeys were seen on several occasions playing in trees around Neubrandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern State, Germany. No zoo escapees were reported.

Jan-Ove Sundberg has gathered reports of a Swedish Bigfoot from Gavleborg County, south and west of Bollnas. In 1985, a woman at a recreation area near Voxna was cleaning out her family cabin when she heard someone prowling around outside. Terrified, she hid under the bed. Later, she found numerous humanlike footprints outside the house that measured 18 inches long by 12 inches wide. A few weeks later, two teenage girls skinny-dipping in a pond saw a large ape in the bushes along the shore. It had a terrible stench, pounded its chest, and growled at them. They swam ashore farther down and ran through the woods without their clothes until they reached home, a few kilometers away. Scared and covered with scratches, they swore the creature wasn't a bear.

A hairy giant with a short, thick neck was reported in the area around Ventimiglia, Liguria, Italy, by Swiss music producer Jean Singgelos and others between December 1996 and July 1997.

Present status: Often seen in medieval art and church sculptures. Some 200 European families have a Wildman or Wudewasa as heraldic emblems.

PP'ossible explanations:

(1) Absorption of the Greek SATYR myth by medieval Christian iconography.

(2) Continuance in popular culture of the "monstrous races" (such as the Kynokephalos or Sciapod) as described by Pliny and other classical authors.

(3) Representations of apes from Africa and Indonesia, although these weren't known in Europe until the seventeenth century.

(4) Depictions of feral people who, for various reasons, reverted to a wild, uncivilized state. In the Middle Ages and continuing into our own times, many homeless, eccentric, heretical, criminal, or mentally unstable individuals have sought refuge outside of society. Abandoned children sometimes had to survive as best they could in the forest. Some famous cases include the wolf child of Hesse, Germany (1344); the bear girl of Hont, Hungary, who was taken to the hospital in Krupina, Slovakia (1767); the wild man of Ivary forest in the Pyrenees (1774); the wild boy of Kronstadt (Brasov, Romania, 1781); and the wild boy of Aveyron, France (1798). The wild state came to symbolize a repudiation of Christianity and a rejection of the divine order—a temporary condition, it was hoped, amenable to rehabilitation so that social structures could be vindicated.

(5) Folk memory of Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) or other early hominids who coexisted with modern Europeans in ancient or medieval times.

Sources: Pierre Boaistuau, Histoires prodigieuses (Paris: Hierome de Marnef et Guillaume Cavellat, 1566); Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsche Sagen [1818] (New York: Arno, 1977); Elias Owen, Welsh Folk-Lore (Oswestry, Wales: Woodall, Minshall, 1896), pp. 152-153; G. C. Druce, "Some Abnormal and Composite Human Forms in English Church Architecture," Archaeological Journal 72 (1915): 159-186; Neue Mannheimer Zeitung, November 3, 1938, p. 7c; J. A. L. Singh and Robert M. Zingg, Wolf-Children and Feral Man (New York: Harper, 1942); Richard Bernheimer, Wild Men in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1952); H. W. Janson, Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

(London: Warburg Institute, 1952), pp. 73-99, 327-346; Ivan T. Sanderson, "The Wudewasa, or Hairy Primitives of Ancient Europe," Genus 23 (1967): 109-140, reprinted in Pursuit, no. 53 (1981): 13-22; Lucien Maison, Wolf Children and the Problem of Human Nature (New York: Monthly Review, 1972); Boris F. Porshnev et al., "The Troglodytidae and the Hominidae in the Taxonomy and Evolution of Higher Primates," Current Anthropology 15 (1974): 449-450, comments and reply, pp. 450-456; Roger Shattuck, Forbidden Experiment: The Story of the Wild Boy of Aveyron (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1980); David Lyle Jeffrey, "Medieval Monsters," in Marjorie M. Halpin and Michael M. Ames, eds., Manlike Monsters on Trial (Vancouver, Canada: University of British Columbia Press, 1980), pp. 47-64; Olive Patricia Dickason, "The Concept of L'Homme Sauvage," in Marjorie M. Halpin and Michael M. Ames, eds., Manlike Monsters on Trial (Vancouver, Canada: University of British Columbia Press, 1980), pp. 65-82; Timothy Husband, with the assistance of Gloria Gilmore-House, The Wild Man: Medieval Myth and Symbolism (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980); John Block Friedman, The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981); Christian Rätsch and Heinz J. Probst, Namaste Yeti: Geschichten vom Wilden Mann (Munich, Germany: Drömersche Verlagsanstalt Knaur, 1985), pp. 51-100; Claude Gaignebet and Jean-Dominique Lajoux, Art profane et religion populaire au Moyen Age (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1985), pp. 114-136; Ulrich Magin, "The European Yeti," Pursuit, no. 74 (1986): 64-66; Ulrich Magin, Trolle, Yetis, Tatzelwürmer (Munich, Germany: C. H. Beck, 1993), pp. 92-97; Phyllis Siefker, Santa Claus, Last ofthe Wild Men (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1997), pp. 39-63; Stephanie Moser, Ancestral Images: The Iconography of Human Origins (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998); François de Sarre, "Preliminary Note: On Representations of Wildmen," Crypto Hominology Special, no. 1

(April 7, 2001), pp. 30-33, at http://www. strangeark.com/crypto/Cryptohominids.pdf; Jean Roche, "Bigfoot-Like Beings Sighted in Western Europe," Crypto Hominology Special, no. 1 (April 7, 2001), pp. 41-43, http:// www.strangeark.com/crypto/Cryptohominids. pdf; Western Europe, http:/perso.wanadoo. fr/daruc/westeur.htm.

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