Thursday, 24 November 2011

Over Supper we Discuss the Yeti

'Over supper we discuss the yeti...Tukten says quietly, "I have heard the yeti," and cries out suddenly, "Kak-kak-kak KAI-ee!"-a wild laughing yelp, quite unlike anything I have ever heard, which echoes eerily off the walls of the cold canyon.
 Stirring the embers, Tukten is silent for a while. Dawa stares at him, more startled than myself. According to Tukten, the yeti is an animal, but "more man-creature than monkey-creature". He has never seen one, but intends to turn quickly when he does and pretend he hasn't; the yeti never attacks men, but to see one is bad luck. Yetis were once common in the Khumbu region, but in the time of his grandfather, the people set out poisoned barley to keep yetis from raiding their crops, and killed them off - there were dead yetis everywhere, said Tukten's grandfather.
 Looking up, he gazes at me peacefully over the flame.Then he says something very strange: "I think the yeti is a Buddhist." When I ask him if he means a holy man, a hermit with strange powers, a naljorpa, he just shrugs, refusing with uncustomary stubbornness to explain further.'

Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

It would be easy to assume that technology has given us a view of the world so comprehensive as to include the yeti, the sasquatch, the trinity alps giant salamander (described by one witness as being the size of an alligator), the dorset ouser - all conveniently labelled on Google Earth. Large mammal species are still discovered with surprising regularity.
The world is still imbued with mystery.

In 1959 European and American explorers stole parts of a relic purported to be the hand of a yeti from the Pangboche monastery in Nepal. Bizarrely, it was the actor James Stewart who smuggled the remains to London in his luggage. Here they were analysed and described not as human but as 'near human'. 

Of course. It was a yeti hand.

For those at Pangboche for whom the relic had a genuine importance, scientific analysis of its yetiness was maybe not so significant. Unfortunately, several years later the rest of the relic was stolen and its present whereabouts are as obscure as the creature which once  used it to shield its eyes from the glaring snow at the unknown summit of this earth.


  1. Weren't they selling yeti-burgers at Wilderness Festival?

  2. Quite possible- I hope they had been fully defrosted.
    It's worth looking at G. Stotinki's seminal 'Cryptid Cuisine' although, frustratingly, many of the ingredients can be difficult to obtain. The Kraken Porridge is as unforgettable as it is indigestible.