Pygmies


Pygmies

Pygmies (singular: Pygmy) refers to a member of any human group whose adult males grow to less than 150 cm (4 feet 11 inches) in average height [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9062017/Pygmy Encyclopedia Britannica: Pygmy] ] or less than 155 cm.http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10283306 Darwin's Children] A member of a slightly taller group is termed pygmoid. The best known pygmies are the Aka, Efe and Mbuti of central Africa. There are also pygmies in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and Bolivia. The Negritos were the earliest inhabitants of Southeast Asia. [ [http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/110486797/ABSTRACT?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 Negritos, Australian Aborigines, and the proto-sundadont dental pattern: The basic populations in East Asia, V] ] The remains of at least 25 miniature humans, who lived between 1,000 and 3,000 years ago, were found on the islands of Palau in Micronesia. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/mar/12/fossils Pygmy human remains found on rock islands] , Science | The Guardian]

The term "Pygmy" is often considered degrading. However, there is no single term to replace it that covers all African Pygmies. [Hewlett, Barry S. "Cultural diversity among African pygmies." In: " [http://www.vancouver.wsu.edu/fac/hewlett/cultdiv.html Cultural Diversity Among Twentieth-Century Foragers] ". Susan Kent, ed. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1996.] Many so called pygmies prefer instead to be referred to by the name of their various ethnic groups, or names for various interrelated groups such as the Aka (Mbenga), Baka, Mbuti, and Twa. [http://www.fao.org/docrep/w1033e/w1033e03.htm Forest peoples in the central African and South American rain forest: focus on the pygmies] ] The term Bayaka, the plural form of the Aka/Yaka, is sometimes used in the Central African Republic to refer to all local Pygmies. Likewise, the Kongo word "Bambenga" is used in Congo.

Etymology

The term pygmy, as used to refer to diminutive people, derives from Greek "Pygmaioi" via Latin "Pygmaei" (sing. "Pygmaeus"), a measure of length corresponding to the distance between the elbow and knuckles. (See also Greek pechus). In Greek mythology the word describes a tribe of dwarfs, first described by Homer, and reputed to live in Ethiopia. [ [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?l=p&p=38 Online Etymology Dictionary] ]

Origins

Possibly a Late Stone Age hunter-gatherer peoples of the central African rainforest, who were partially absorbed or displaced by later immigration of agricultural peoples, and adopted their Central Sudanic, Adamawa-Ubangian, and Bantu languages. This view has no archaeological support, and ambiguous support from genetics and linguistics.R. Blench and M. Dendo. [http://homepage.ntlworld.com/roger_blench/Language%20data/SAFA%202004%20genetics%20paper.pdf "Genetics and linguistics in sub-Saharan Africa"] , Cambridge-Bergen, June 24, 2004.] Klieman, Kairn A. "The Pygmies Were Our Compass: Bantu and BaTwa in the History of West Central Africa, Early Times to c. 1900", Heinemann, 2003.] [Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi Luca, ed. "African Pygmies". Orlando, Fla.: Academic Press, 1986] Some 30% of the Aka language is not Bantu, and a similar percentage of the Baka language is not Ubangian. Much of this vocabulary is botanical, deals with honey collecting, or is otherwise specialized for the forest and is shared between the two western Pygmy groups. It has been proposed that this is the remnant of an independent western Pygmy (Mbenga or "Baaka") language. [Serge Bahuchet, 1993, "History of the inhabitants of the central African rain forest: perspectives from comparative linguistics." In C.M. Hladik, ed., "Tropical forests, people, and food: Biocultural interactions and applications to development." Paris: Unesco/Parthenon.]

Genetically, the eastern Mbuti pygmies are extremely divergent from other human populations, as well as being the shortest of the Pygmy populations, suggesting they have an ancient indigenous lineage. Their closest relatives appear to be the Hadzabe, who live in the savannas east of the forest and were quite short in stature before heavy recent intermarriage with their taller neighbors. Other Pygmy groups which have been genetically tested are not very distinct from their non-Pygmy neighbors, suggesting either that their indigenous ancestry has been diluted through interbreeding with neighboring agricultural populations, or that they have a different ancestry from the Mbuti. Indeed, the genetic mutations responsible for the short stature of the eastern and western Pygmies are different and unrelated, suggesting that they represent independent adaptations to the forest.Fact|date=June 2008

There are a number of "Twa" populations along the southern border of Angola and neighboring countries, living in swamps and deserts far from the forest. They are little studied, and it is not known if they are indigenous to the area or more recent migrants from the forest.

Various theories have been proposed to explain the short stature of pygmies: lack of food in the rainforest environment, low calcium levels in the soil, the need to move through dense jungle, as an adaptation to heat and humidity, and most recently, as an association with rapid reproductive maturation under conditions of early mortality. [ [http://notexactlyrocketscience.wordpress.com/2007/12/19/short-lives-short-size-why-are-pygmies-small/ Short lives, short size - why are pygmies small? « Not Exactly Rocket Science ] ]

Ultraviolet light levels are very low in rainforests. [ [http://school.anhb.uwa.edu.au/ashb/ARTICLES/Short-articles/short%20articles.htm#article1 A note on the ultraviolet light levels in tropical rainforest (North Queensland)] ] This might mean that relatively little vitamin D can be made in human skin, thereby limiting calcium uptake from the diet for bone growth and maintenance. This could lead to the evolution of small skeletal size, that is to a "pygmy". O'Dea, JD. Possible contribution of low ultraviolet light under the rainforest canopy to the small stature of Pygmies and Negritos. Homo: Journal of Comparative Human Biology, Vol. 44, No.3, pp. 284-7, 1994 ]

African Pygmies

Pygmies live in several ethnic groups in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia. Most Pygmy communities are hunter-gatherers, living partially but not exclusively on the wild products of their environment. They trade with neighbouring farmers to acquire cultivated foods and other material items. It is estimated that there are between 250,000 and 600,000 Pygmies living in the Congo rainforest. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/oct/04/congo.forests World Bank accused of razing Congo forests] , The Guardian]

There are several Pygmy groups, the best known being the Mbenga (Aka and Baka) of the western Congo basin, the Mbuti (Efe "etc.") of the Ituri Rainforest, and the Twa of the Great Lakes.
* Mbenga or Ba-Mbenga (AKA Ba-Binga [derogatory] ) (west Congo basin)
**Aka or Mò-Áka (AKA (Ba-)Yaka, Ba-Yaga, Gba-Yaka, Bi-Aka, Beká, Yakwa, Yakpa, Yakpwa) (Central African Republic, Republic of Congo) speak a Bantu language close to Linguala
***M-Benzélé or Ba-Benzélé (Western Aka, Central African Republic)
***Ba-Sese (Eastern Aka)
**Baka (AKA Bi-Baya) (Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo) speak closely related Ubangi languages
***Baka proper
***Ganzi
***Gundi or Ngondi
**Gyele or Ba/Bo-Gieli (AKA Bonjiel(i), Ba-Ko, Be-Koe, Ba-Kola, Ba-Kuele, Li-Koya) (Cameroon) speak a Bantu language of the Makaa-Njem branch
*Mbuti or Bambuti (Ituri rainforest, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo)
**Efé speak a Central Sudanic language related to Mangbutu
**Asua or Asoa (AKA Aka) speak a Central Sudanic language related to Mangbetu
**Kango or Ba-Kango (AKA Ba-Tchua) speak a Bantu language related to Komo
*Twa or Ba-Twa (AKA Ge-Sera) (Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda) speak the Kirundi and Kinyarwanda languages
* Elsewhere in Africa some of the San (Bushmen) of the Kalahari are of Pygmy size.

Claim of genocide

In 2003, Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, told the UN's Indigenous People's Forum that during the Congo Civil War, his people were hunted down and eaten as though they were game animals. In neighbouring North Kivu province there has been cannibalism by a group known as Les Effaceurs (The Erasers) who wanted to clear the land of people to open it up for mineral exploitation.http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article402970.ece Pygmies struggle to survive] Both sides of the war regarded them as "subhuman" and some say their flesh can confer magical powers. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3869489.stm DR Congo Pygmies 'exterminated'] Makelo asked the UN Security Council to recognise cannibalism as a crime against humanity and an act of genocide. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2933524.stm DR Congo Pygmies appeal to UN] ] According to Minority Rights Group International there is extensive evidence of mass killings, cannibalism and rape of Pygmies and have urged the International Criminal Court to investigate a campaign of extermination against pygmies. Although, they have been targeted by virtually all the armed groups, much of the violence against Pygmies is attributed to the rebel group, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, which is part of the transitional government and still controls much of the north, and their allies. [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/rebels-eating-pygmies-as-mass-slaughter-continues-in-congo-despite-peace-agreement-601088.html rebels 'eating pygmies']

Slavery

In the Republic of Congo, where Pygmies make up 5 to 10% of the population, many Pygmies live as slaves to Bantu masters. The nation is deeply stratified between these two major ethnic groups. The Pygmy slaves belong from birth to their Bantu masters in a relationship that the Bantus call a time-honored tradition. Even though, the Pygmies are responsible for much of the hunting, fishing and manual labor in jungle villages, Pygmies and Bantus alike say Pygmies are often paid at the master's whim; in cigarettes, used clothing, or even nothing at all. Now UNICEF and human-rights activists are speaking out. A law that would grant special protections to the Pygmy people is awaiting a vote by the Congo parliament. [ [http://www.newsobserver.com/110/story/552528.html Congo's Pygmies live as slaves] , newsobserver.com] [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9900EFDB103FF935A25755C0A961958260 As the World Intrudes, Pygmies Feel Endangered] , New York Times]

Negrito

Negritos in Southeast Asia (including the Batak and Aeta of the Philippines, the Andamanese of the Andaman Islands, and the Semang of the Malay Peninsula), and occasionally Papuans and Melanesians in adjacent Oceania, are sometimes called pygmies (especially in older literatureFact|date=December 2007). Negritos share some common physical features with African pygmy populations, including short stature and dark skin; however, their origin and the route of their migration to Asia is still a matter of great speculation. They are genetically distant from Africans,cite journal| first = Kumarasamy | last = Thangaraj| coauthors = et al| title = Genetic Affinities of the Andaman Islanders, a Vanishing Human Population|url=http://hpgl.stanford.edu/publications/CB_2002_p1-18.pdf| journal =Current Biology | volume = 13, Number 2| pages = 86–93(8)| date= 21 January 2003] and shown to have separated early from Asians, suggesting that they are either surviving descendants of settlers from an early out-of-Africa migration, or that they are descendants of one of the founder populations of modern humans.Kashyap VK, Sitalaximi T, Sarkar BN, Trivedi R 2003. [http://www.krepublishers.com/02-Journals/IJHG/IJHG-03-0-000-000-2003-Web/IJHG-03-1-001-067-2003-Abst-PDF/IJHG-03-1-005-011-2003-Kashyap/IJHG-03-1-005-011-2003-Kashyap.pdf Molecular relatedness of the aboriginal groups of Andaman and Nicobar Islands with similar ethnic populations] . "The International Journal of Human Genetics", 3: 5-11.] Their resemblance to some Africans, it is generally believed, is due to adaptation to a similar environment, rather than shared origins.

The name "Negrito", from Spanish meaning "little black", was given by early explorers. They assumed the Andamanese they encountered were from Africa. This belief was however discarded by anthropologists who noted that apart from dark skin and curly hair, the Andamanese had little in common with any African population, including the African pygmies.Liu, James J.Y. The Chinese Knight Errant. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967 (ISBN 0-2264-8688-5)]

Barrineans

Short statured aboriginal tribes inhabited the rainforests of North Queensland, Australia, of which the best known group is probably the Tjapukai of the Cairns area. [ [http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/orig/tindale/hdms/tindaletribes/tjapukai.htm Tindale's Catalogue of Australian Aboriginal Tribes: Tjapukai (QLD)] ] These rainforest people, collectively referred to as Barrineans, were once considered to be a relict of the earliest wave of migration to the Australian continent, but this theory no longer finds much favour. [ [http://www.lib.latrobe.edu.au/AHR/archive/Issue-June-2002/groves.html Australia for the Australians] ] The Rainforest People tended to live in the first variety of Jykabita, a wood and mud structure renowned for incubation of plants. ["Australia, the other white meat" Aaron Pirini, 1982]

Frank Kingdon-Ward in the early 20th century, Alan Rabinowitz in the 1990s, P. Christiaan Klieger in 2003, and others have reported a tribe of pygmy Tibeto-Burman speakers known as the T'rung inhabiting the remote region of Mt. Hkakabo Razi in Southeast Asia on the border of China (Yunnan and Tibet), Burma, and India. A Burmese survey done in the 1960s reported a mean height of an adult male T'rung at 1.43 m (4'6") and that of females at 1.40 m (4'5"). These are the only "pygmies" noted of clearly East Asian origin. The cause of their diminutive size is unknown, but diet and endogamous marriage practices have been cited. The population of T'rung pygmies has been steadily shrinking, and is now down to only a few individuals. [cite book
author = P. Christiaan Klieger
title = Along the Salt Road.
publisher = California Wild
year = 2003
]

Short statured aboriginal tribes inhabited the rainforests of North Queensland, Australia, of which the best known group is probably the Tjapukai of the Cairns area. [25] These rainforest people, collectively referred to as Barrineans, were once considered to be a relict of the earliest wave of migration to the Australian continent, but this theory no longer finds much favour. [26] The Rainforest People tended to live in the first variety of Jykabita, a wood and mud structure renowned for incubation of plants. [27]

Frank Kingdon-Ward in the early 20th century, Alan Rabinowitz in the 1990s, P. Christiaan Klieger in 2003, and others have reported a tribe of pygmy Tibeto-Burman speakers known as the T'rung inhabiting the remote region of Mt. Hkakabo Razi in Southeast Asia on the border of China (Yunnan and Tibet), Burma, and India. A Burmese survey done in the 1960s reported a mean height of an adult male T'rung at 1.43 m (4'6") and that of females at 1.40 m (4'5"). These are the only "pygmies" noted of clearly East Asian origin. The cause of their diminutive size is unknown, but diet and endogamous marriage practices have been cited. The population of T'rung pygmies has been steadily declining, and is now down to only a few individuals. [28]

References

ee also

*Negrito
*Hunter gatherers
*Indigenous peoples
*Pygmy music
*"Homo floresiensis"

External links

* [http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0509/feature5 Mbuti Pygmies @ National Geographic Magazine] National Geographic Feature in September 2005
* [http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0509/feature5/multimedia.html Mbuti Pygmies, Who Rules the Forest?] (National Geographic Magazine Multimedia)
* [http://www.pygmies.info/ Baka Pygmies: Culture, music and rites of initiation in the Central African rainforest]
* [http://www.survival-international.org/tribes.php?tribe_id=35 Survival International: Pygmies]


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