Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Wodewose, Medieval Bigfoot?

The wodewose is a savage, naked man decked out in leaves and boughs or moss and ivy, carrying a huge club. He has been seen in England since 14th Century and up to the 16th Century .He has been described as a large bearded man whose entire body was covered in curly hair .Variations of the name can be written or spoken as wudewasa, wudu, or wood houses. Historians theorised that the wodewose may have been some ancestor of man, and during the periods of its existence, had learned to fashion tools from wood. Similar stories of large hairy ape-men are found in the Pacific Northwest, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Belize, Guiana, Ecuador, Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, parts of Africa, and of course the Himalayas The first “Wild Man” appearing in the world’s literature was Enkidu in the ancient Summerian Epic of Gilgamesh. Created by the goddess Aruru (also known as Anu) to appease the prayers of the subjects of Gilgamesh who tired of his iron hand rule, Enkidu was made to match the strength of Gilgamesh and to do battle with him although he actually became Gilgamesh’s closest ally. Historian Fred Gladstone Skinner wrote that Enkidu was “a valiant god of battle, whose entire body was covered with hair, shaggy as a woman’s head. His clothes were of animal skins and, like an animal, he grazed in the fields and fought with the wild beasts for a place at the water holes.” .

A woodwose is described in Konungs skuggsjá which is a Norway educational text from around 1250:
It once happened in that country (and this seems indeed strange) that a living creature was caught in the forest as to which no one could say definitely whether it was a man or some other animal; for no one could get a word from it or be sure that it understood human speech. It had the human shape, however, in every detail, both as to hands and face and feet; but the entire body was covered with hair as the beasts are, and down the back it had a long coarse mane like that of a horse, which fell to both sides and trailed along the ground when the creature stooped in walking.

There were pictures and books printed during the 15th century in England ,which told of stories of appearances made by the wodewose. Tales about the wodewose were also very popular during the Elizabethan Era in the 16th century. Late-medieval churches in the areas of Norfolk and Suffolk in East Anglia have depictions of the wodewose on their structures. Some of the stone statues depicting the wodewose show the hairy man defeating a beast such as a lion or a dragon-like creature. Could the green man depicted in many churches also be the wodewose? The scenes of the wildmen defeating beasts also leave unanswered questions and speculation about what beasts were around at the same time as man evolved.

So the original bigfoot may have been an ancestor of man. The stories go back for thousands of years across the world. Could there once have been a worldwide distribution of wild men and that the creatures being reported as seen now, be just remnants of those tribes living in remote places?

Skinner, Fred Gladstone. 1970 “Myths and Legends of the Ancient Near East”. New York: Barnes & Noble Books

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