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In the 17th century, Étienne de Flacourt questioned certain accounts of the Pygmies in the South (see previous note).
“Some have wished to make believe that there were Giants and Pygmies; I have informed myself on purpose; They are fables told by the players of herravou (players of zither on calabash). I saw a place near Itapera where there are a lot of standing stones, where I was told that they were Pygmies buried there. These Pygmies had come in great numbers to a race in the country of Anossi, from which they were pushed as far as the river of Itapere, which, being unable to pass, for lack of boats, they were all put to death; And to mark this victory, the victors buried them all and erected these stones. “
A century later, in 1767, Valgny arrives at Fort-Dauphin, preceding a few months, the attempt to relocate Maudave. Located in the Ile de France (Mauritius), he can re-read the writings of Flacourt and the passage on the Pygmies retains his attention. On his arrival at Fort Dauphin, he handed Maudave a “special memory on the Kimosses,” which was to awaken the curiosity of his chief.
In his “Excerpt from a few papers on the island of Madagascar,” one senses that the Pygmies of whom he speaks and to whom he seems to give the first, the denomination of “Kimosses”, “would not be so Different from the other races of Madagascar, if not the size “(JC Hébert, 1973).
According to Valgny, “all the different nations do not seem to differ from origin, except perhaps the Louha-Lambou (Amboalambo, sobriquet given to the Merina), since all have frizzy hair and configuration A fairly similar face. We shall also distinguish that which is in the interior of the island, and which is called Kimosse. Although it is similar to the others by the woolly hair and the features of the face, it essentially differs from it by the smallness of the waist, which is only about three feet high. At Fort Dauphin there is a Kimosse woman about 30 years old. She has no breasts, and it has been said that the other women of the nation, in wanting the same, nourished their children with cow’s milk. “
The author relates that for a long time he knew that the South of Madagascar formerly inhabited by a “race of dwarfs” was conquered by others of a larger size. In a decisive battle, the latter kill a large number of “these little men”, put the bodies in heaps and cover them with earth. “What had formed the mounds (hillocks) that one sees today. As he inquired about the natives, he learned that the plain was three days’ march northward and that it was called “Ambouve in Manantan”.
Continuing his narrative, he mentions a chief from the vicinity of Fort Dauphin who talks to him about the Kimosy. “The little men are fighting like devils and if they had rifles like us, it would not be good to go home. And he concludes by indicating that the notion of Kimosy is constant in Madagascar. “It is probable that the vanquished people have taken refuge where their descendants are today. “
Het also speaks of Sonnerat, a conscientious informant, who left France in 1768. He remained three years in the Mascarene islands and on the Malagasy shores, before returning to Madagascar on a second voyage in 1780-1781. From the arrival of the naturalist Commerson to Mauritius, he was attached to his person and accompanied him on his travels. Especially on the East and South coasts of Madagascar, from August 1770 to January 1771, before accompanying Poivre aux Molucques.
It was not until 1782, according to Hébert, that his “Journey to the East Indies and China” appeared, from 1774 to 1781, in which he dealt with manners, religion, the sciences and the arts of the Indians , Chinese, Pégouins (Pegou) and Madécasses, in two volumes.
The information he gives on Madagascar is interesting, for “if he knows the work of Flacourt, he does not plagiarize it and his information appears firsthand”. One finds that he gives an opinion different from that of his master, Commerson, of which he does not even speak. His Notes are probably written “before Commerson learned from Maudave the existence of Pygmies in the Southeast”.
He nevertheless suggests that he knows the legend of a dwarf race. “The country of Manantan or Racquimouchi forms a small province situated at the source of the river Manantan… The soil is so arid that only the cambards (chilly roots) and the banana trees come from it. It contains 2,000 inhabitants, governed by six chiefs, descended from a small man of three feet, and though they are of an ordinary size, they have preserved the name of Zapheraquimouch, which means dwarf. This apparently suggests that the island contains a dwarf race. “