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The Notes end with the opinions of some travelers, ethnologists and other scientists on the Pygmies of the South Malagasy. Let us quote Commerson (see previous note), who considers that the diminution of size in relation to that of Lapland is gradually graduated as from Lappa to Quimos; Both inhabit colder regions and the highest mountains of the earth. Those of Madagascar inhabited by the Quimos are 16 to 18 fathoms high above the level of the sea. The plants which naturally grow on these great heights seem to be only abortions like pine and birch, Others which, from the class of trees, pass to that of the humblest shrubs, merely because they have become alpine, that is to say, high mountains. “
In the eighteenth century, the Malagasy Pygmies are so much talked that Dr. Munier,
Also known by a memoir on the state of health on the east coast (J.C. Hébert), undertakes an exploratory voyage. However, when he reached the valley of Ambolo, he was wanting to be killed and returned to Fort Dauphin. The little he wrote on the question,
Says Hébert, resides in a sentence in a letter dated March 1770: “I formed the project of going to discover a particular race of men called Quimos who live in the interior of the island. “
Le Gentil, the astronomer of the king, who has come to observe the passage of Venus on the solar disk in the Indian Ocean, devotes a few pages of his book on this phenomenon to criticism of Commerson’s thesis. Barthelemy Huet de Froberville reproduces them in his Grand Dictionnaire.
In fact, Le Gentil is surprised that neither Commerson nor Maudave, whom he knows very personally and whom he meets when they return from Fort Dauphin, in the Ile de France (Mauritius), never spoke to him about these Pygmies. His criticism was severe, especially against Commerson, who had “neither seen the Pygmies nor the high mountains of which he speaks.”
He concludes categorically his opinion: “It is false that there is a tradition of Pygmies in Fort Dauphin currently existing in Madagascar. It is equally false that there is a commonly held notion throughout Madagascar of the present existence of so-called Quimos. “
However, Hébert commented, partisans and adversaries of the existence of a dwarf people still continue to face each other.
Thus, in his “Memory concerning the Isle of Madagascar”, read at the Institut de France, the
4 September 1800, Lescalier criticizes Raynal’s work on the cultivation of rice, which is not so “brutal and savage” as on the existence of the Quimos. He was appointed in 1791, among the four civil commissioners for the French settlements situated beyond the Cape of Good Hope.
He writes in substance: “Another of his errors on the island of Madagascar is that of the supposed existence of a people called Quimosses. He specifies that such a people does not exist, but rather “some dwarf and ill-shaped individuals by accident, in certain countries and in different places, without forming a body of a deformed and disgraced people of nature.” But according to Hébert, Lescalier does not leave the coast and remains little time in Foulpointe to get an idea.
On the other hand, Fressanges has the advantage of advancing further into the interior as far as Ankay, three days’ march from the coast. In his Voyage to Madagascar, he speaks of the inhabitants of Andrantsay, who are “rough and cowardly” pastoral peoples. He adds: “They are the toys of the Ancoves who make war on them to have slaves. When they wish to repulse their enemies from their homes, they offer herds in tribute, thereby redeeming their liberty. “
But referring to the indications given by the contractors, Fressanges realizes that these dwarfs are not in the province of Andrantsay. Moreover, he mentions that he never hears the word Quimos in all Madagascar, and that if by nature games he is born a dwarf, the natives call him “Zaza Coute Coute” or man-child , “Zazakoto” for Jean Valette. To conclude Hébert suggests that Fressanges must have misunderstood the word “Zaza-voatrotroka” reported by Chapelier (Zaza vowe toutouc) and Rondeaux (Zaza vouatoutoucque).