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#606
Madagascar
Keymaster

The Notes take up the myth of the dwarf people in the southern Malagasy with the version of Commerson (1769-1771). At the end of 1769, the scientist visited the governor of Fort Dauphin, the Earl of Maudave. On April 18, 1771, he wrote a letter to De Lalande which was then inserted in the supplement to the “Voyage” of Bougainville published in 1772.
According to J. C. Hébert, De Lalande publishes an article on a dwarf people of Madagascar in the Journal des Savants of December 1771. And in the Journal of Physics of the Abbe Rozier, under the name of the same scientist, there is a “Letter on Commers’ eulogy published in February 1775 containing the observations of M. de Clugny on the Quimos.”
Commerson, for his part, writes a “Historical Note on a Dwarf People of Madagascar, Kimosse” and an account of his “Journey to Madagascar in 1770”, containing the dates and observations of natural history made in the South, The Fort Dauphin area.
In Froberville’s “Grand Dictionnaire”, reproduced in the Abbé Rochon’s version, Hebert points out an extract from Commerson: “The amateurs of the marvelous, who would doubtless have wished us to have reduced to 6 feet The so-called gigantic size of the Patagonians, will perhaps accept in compensation a race of Pygmies which gives in the opposite excess. I mean those half-men from the interior of the Great Isle of Madagascar, who form a considerable body of nation called Quimos or Kimos in the Massecasse language. “
Speaking of their natural and distinctive character, Commerson indicates that these little men have a more pale complexion than all the natives of the island, with very long arms “so that the hand reaches below the knee without bending the body, Women have no breast, at least they give cow’s milk to their newborns.
Concerning their intellectual faculties, the Quimos dispute with the other Madecas known to be “very spiritual and very skilful though given to the greatest laziness”. He points out that the Quimos are much more active and also warlike because of their courage that supplants their size and they can never be oppressed by their neighbors who “often have a problem with them.” As the aim of all internal war in the island is to have an important booty of cattle and slaves, their size preserves them from this “last insult”
Commerson adds, “Though attacked with unequal forces and weapons, for they do not have the use of powder and guns as their enemies, they have always fought courageously and kept free in their rocks, their difficult access Undoubtedly contributing greatly to their conservation. “They live on rice, different fruits, vegetables and roots, raise a large number of zebu and large-tailed sheep. They do not communicate with their neighbors “either by trade or in any other way”, living in self-subsistence.
Commerson also confirms that when, from the top of their mountains, they see an important troop advancing in the plain, “they decide of themselves to attach to the entrance of the defiles, where it is necessary to pass to go to them Some superfluous of their flocks, of which, they say, they voluntarily sacrifice to the poverty of their elder brothers. ” Froberville in his Dictionary notes: “The Quimos, as we see, are not only a people of Pygmies, but a people of wise men. And he remarked: “M. de Maudave makes them live in a valley, M. de Commerson des mountains.” “
The Abbe Rochon completes what Froberville says: “At three or four days from Fort Dauphin, the people of the country show with a great deal of complacency a succession of small mounds or earthen mounds in the form of tombs, which they assert their origin To a massacre of Quimos defeated in the open by their ancestors. Be this as it may, this constant tradition in these canyons, as well as a notion widely spread by all Madagascar, of the still existing existence of the Quimos, do not allow to doubt that at least part of what is told , Be true … “
The Abbe de Rochon, who can see the wife Quimosse at Maudave’s house, summarizes: “She did not resemble slender little people, but rather a woman of ordinary proportions in detail, but only shortened in height. “