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Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2020 10:34AM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've always known that Machen had more than a
> little interest in folklore. His stories,
> especially "The White People", "The Great Return",
> and "The Hill of Dreams", make numerous references
> to his native folk history and alchemical
> occultism. I've never read this piece before, but
> it's fascinating how so many cultures can have
> somewhat similar accounts of hidden beings causing
> mischief. It seems the idea of the "little people"
> as a hidden aboriginal group used to be popular in
> his time, but seems to have dwindled from popular
> imagination today.
>
> My knowledge of Irish mythology and folk culture
> is faint, but that story sounds like something
> Machen would have considered significant to his
> beliefs regarding the little people.
>
> Dale, with your specialty in European lore, do you
> know if Machen's esoteric references in "The White
> People" were based on any real practices or folk
> beliefs? You know, the Chian language, the Mao
> games, the Dols, the Jeelo, the Alala, etc. I
> couldn't find anything about the Aklo letters so I
> assume those aren't real, but anything on the
> terms I listed?


In Hawaiian lore, there's the idea of the minehune (I hope I spelled that correctly), a race of small people who inhabited the islands before the Polynesians arrived around 1500 AD or so. They are associated with furtiveness, etc.

Being irreverent, and yet also seriously speculative, I first played around with the idea that yep, there were earlier inhabitants, and as compared to the Polynesians, who are genetically very large folk, especially the Tahitian subset that colonized Hawaii, and Hawaiian being an imprecise language, over time any group who was noticeably *smaller*, in any sense, might eventually become thought of as elf-like in size. Especially if they were seldom, or never, seen.

Now, all this worldwide talk of there being actual minehune, fairies, little folk, etc., could be put to rest by finding human remains or material artifacts from these folk. There are plausible reasons why we might not, but really, we would expect to find some indications, somewhere, from the locales with the widespread tales of "little people", of their previous existence. But we don't actually see this in the context that indicates direct cohabitation/competition with the large modern humans. This is to say that as far as I know, we can see evidence of Denisovans that overlap in the dimension of time with modern humans, but not in specific locale. This differs from the Neanderthal/modern human overlap in Europe. Trolls and ogres, anyone?

So...

But I had my own theory...

The Hawaiians must have been very hungry after their long voyage. We see no evidence of any minehunes, but we *do* see lots of evidence of large, well-fed Polynesians...

;^)

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2020 01:52PM
Quote:
Knygatin
I don't know so much about this, but I'd like to mention that Robert E. Howard also wrote a bit about the little people in connection to his favorite race, the Picts

Indeed, he'd written several different stories about them, chief of which are "The Children of the Night" and "The Black Stone." It seems he was even more directly influenced by Machen's little people than Lovecraft was. HPL's "little people" were a super-advanced civilization of crustaceans!

Quote:
Knygatin
Recent excavations on the Indonesian island Flores have actually unearthed skeletons of an upright standing midget humanoid race that were about 90 cm tall. Not deformed and squat, like the ones you see in Hollywood films, but having gracile anatomy; miniatures of men.

I never heard of this before! I'm looking up these people and I can't believe what I'm reading! If ever there were elves in human history, this is the closest thing imaginable. It's such a shame they went extinct, but then again it's a shame when anything goes extinct, including the giant storks and miniature elephants they lived among. Speaking of which, I've just read that this race of literal little people might have been menaced by those colossal storks, scary to imagine...

Quote:
Sawfish
In Hawaiian lore, there's the idea of the minehune (I hope I spelled that correctly), a race of small people who inhabited the islands before the Polynesians arrived around 1500 AD or so. They are associated with furtiveness, etc.

Thanks for the fascinating story and insight, especially regarding that Polynesians' perspective. I had a feeling you'd contribute something related to Hawaiian lore! It seems no matter what continent or island you go to, there's going to be some stories about hidden people or diminutive people blessing and cursing human existence. It's interesting to wonder where all these similar ideas come from, whether it's psychological or historical.

Quote:
Sawfish
The Hawaiians must have been very hungry after their long voyage. We see no evidence of any minehunes, but we *do* see lots of evidence of large, well-fed Polynesians...

In an age when voyagers had no clue where their next food source will be, it isn't too far-fetched an idea. ;)

By the way, that mention I made of HPL's "little people" reminded me that the Mi-Go, or Himalayan Snow-Men, were not merely legendary ape-like animals, but actual fabulous legends, somewhat akin to elves or trolls. They had magical powers, good and bad relationships with humanity (mischievous tricksters, good-natured gift bringers, or man-eating devils), and even religious significance.

And just describing this is making me realize how strange it is that HPL decided the hairy bestial Snow-Men were in fact bat-winged crustaceans!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 7 Sep 20 | 01:53PM by Hespire.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2020 02:53PM
A. Merritt quite wonderfully described the little people in his novel Dwellers in the Mirage. They ran about like "little deer".

When animals are lesser in size, the proportion of their mass weight to body size is also reduced, compared to bigger species. Which makes their movements lighter, more sprightly.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2020 02:56PM
"The Hobbit of Indonesia":

[en.wikipedia.org]

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2020 06:28PM
Here's a fanzine with a real Machen folkloric-type rarity in it:

[www.fanac.org]

The "Little People" of the mount and the threatening club seen out of the corner of one's eye suggest something malevolent behind the cute modern picture of the leprechaun leaning on his shillelagh as a supposed walking stick.

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