Search for a Tribe of Lost Tibetan Pygmy’s
In March and April 2009 I made the first of two attempts to find the lost tribe of Tibetan pygmies. I had a great deal of success in that I was able to find that these pygmies do indeed exist but the high passes into the area where there are two or three hundred individuals were completely snowed in. I am planning to return in May 2009 to finish this landmark documentary and cultural research project.
Professor Christiaan Klieger related to me on April 15 that the Tyrone pygmies tribe’s name is actually “T’rung.” Their oral history states that they are related to the Tibetans and they migrated with the Tibetans from the ancient land of Chiang near inner Mongolia. This migration perhaps started and was related to the invasions of the Mongol hordes in the 1200’s they ended up in the Mekong-Salween rivers in the mid 1700’s and subsequently a few moved into north central Burma becoming the Tarone reported by Rabinowitz and others.
Christiaan Klieger PhD one of the primary authorities on this subject relates that the “island theory of accelerated evolution” may very well contribute to the T’rung’s very small stature. This may also include “achromdroplasia” or what is more commonly known as dwarfism as a result of inbreeding.
As a result of my research I see two distinct yet related populations. One would be described as a common pygmy gene where individuals are less than 4’11” yet perfectly formed human beings. The other population are equally small but display varying degrees of what can be described as dwarfism. On my next expedition this coming month, I am going to try to make more detailed observations to help resolve this inconsistency in reporting by previously scientific studies and my observations to date. In an equally interesting possibility it may be the case that the normally tall Tibetans have a recessive gene that causes pygmy or dwarf conditions in some children. I could readily see that very small people were intermarrying with other similarly small people and that folks who displayed some types of physical handicaps associated with dwarfism were marrying similar individuals with the same physical characteristics.
This next expedition is very exciting as I believe that the research and photography will add to the body of human knowledge as well as some of the current scientific debates in the field of human evolution. This region of central Asia has a very unique mix of human beings and the result are trends in evolution as maybe evident with the Tyrone of Burma coming to the end of their line and the T’rung of Yunnan and Tibet existing as healthy populations in the modern era.
In 2006 I published this on the internet as I began to take the possibility for researching the subject of a lost tribe of Tibetan pygmy’s seriously.
Entering the Middle and Lower Tsangpo Gorge May 1993 (left)
Possible Mixed Blood or Perhaps even Pure Blood
Possible pygmy hunter approximately 4’5” tall. (left) Same hunter by giant oak tree
This very small hunter guided me for approximately one week through the Middle Gorge. (left) Close up of Possible Pygmy Hunter with Homemade Matchlock Rifle. Wild Bill McGinley provides that this firearm requires a very steady aim and was of a colonial era Chinese design. It is quite hazardous to the eyes of the shootist. Thank you Wild Bill for this update!
Villager Older Man About 4 Feet Tall
Richard D. Fisher Crossing 19,000 Foot Pass Exiting the Gorge After a Grueling 3-Week Survival Solo Trek 1993. And the expedition on which he first noticed possible pygmy’s.
When I traversed The Yarlung Tsang-po on a number of occasions in the 1990’s,
I saw a relatively large number of very small people, both male and female,
of different ages. I thought that extremely poor nutrition and/or inbreeding,
which is very common in great canyons, was the reason for these very diminutive
tribal people. It has just come to my attention through the Explorer's Club
that these people may be descendents of Tibetan/Burmese pigmies that are known
to have migrated and hidden themselves along the Tibetan and Burmese border.
It may be possible that such a tribe actually exists. In addition to the photos
here, I saw one group of very small, virtually naked people in a cave during
a flood event. The weather conditions were so violent during those days and
the situation was so strange and unique, I could not stop to take a photo.
It is known that people from the Tibetan/Burmese border moved into the canyon
in about 1850. Is it possible that some of the pygmy tribe also experienced
conditions that forced them to move further from Chinese encroachment? It is
known that some of these pygmy people moved into northern Burma and that three
pure blood individuals remain to this day. I think there is a very great likelihood
that perhaps several hundred of these tribal Tibetan pigmies exist in the gorge
today. I am quite sure that these pigmies have intermarried with local tribal
Loba and Tibetan peoples. Some of the adult men and all of the adult women
were less than four feet tall.
NPR April 15, 2009
“describes a visit Allen Rabinowitz made to the Burmese/ China border back in 1997, where he met a man about his age, an Asian pygmy named Dawi”…
Alan, like the rest of us, knew of pygmies in Africa. But one day in a Burmese bookstore, he happened upon a book about a pygmy tribe called the Taron. They'd been described by some British anthropologists in the 1950s: 150 families of small-statured Asians who lived together in a remote village in an almost inaccessible Himalayan valley.
Alan looked up the village on a Burmese map and decided he wanted to find out what happened to those families. And so, on his way up to the Chinese border, he decided to make a short detour and visit the village. When he got there, he discovered that instead of 150 families, there were only a handful of Taron left. The others, all the others, had disappeared.
Where had they gone?”
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.”
California Wild: The Magazine of the California Academy of Sciences. Online
FEATURE: ALONG THE SALT ROAD
Christiaan Klieger PhD.
…“The possibility of “lost tribes”—unknown or little known groups living in inaccessible corners of the planet in the twenty-first century—is both exciting and vexatious for anthropologists”…
…Our journey traces the dusty footsteps of only a handful of Western visitors. In 1895-6, an expedition led by Prince Henri d’Orleans came upon the sources of the Irrawaddy River. His travels took him to the Dulong Jiang Valley, since 1961 a part of China. Along the upper regions of the valley, Prince Henri encountered the T’rung people”…
The men mostly had a twig or thorn in the ear as ornament; the women sometimes a large silver ear-ring. The latter also were tattooed in green round the mouth. Formerly they used to be unmolested, but the Loutses made war on them, and it was then that they lived for precaution in holes under the trees.... The natives who came in with food were well formed, though diminutive, almost naked, and wholly dirty”…
“British explorer F.M. Bailey in 1911 noted that Tibetans living along the upper Salween, the valley east of Dulong, exploited the T’rung people as slaves. “Menkong,” he writes, “used to be a centre for the slave trade, and we found many slaves of a dwarf race...who had been brought from a country called by the Tibetans Tsong Yul, seven days journey south. Edgard [my companion] measured some typical ones. A man was four foot four inches...”
“English botanist Frank Kingdon-Ward visited the region in the 1920s, and he, too, found dwarf slaves among the Tibetans, the women “tattooed with indigo from between the eyes,” possibly to discourage their abduction. He described the indigenous people as two discrete types: a pygmy group not over five feet high”…
…“The survey found the mean height of adult T’rung males to be 1.43 m (4’6”) and that of females 1.40 m (4’5”). Other measurements of the shape of the skull and jaw line and the consistency of the epicanthic fold verified that the T’rung were from Central or East Asia, and were not related to the short Negrito people of Malaysia and the Philippines”...
…”All the T’rung in Burma, I learn, are the descendents of just three men and their wives. Adung Long Hpone, brother Thala Long Hpone, and Soomdum Hpone left Longdam village, on the Dulong Jiang, after the family had an argument with their Tibetan landlord in the 1880s. The story is very similar to the one Prince Henri related a hundred years earlier”...
…”Alan Rabinowitz of the Wildlife Conservation Society has suggested that the T’rung of Krone are not going to have any children and recommends governmental support until they die out. But I am not so sure this will happen. Dawi tells me that he will visit Dulong Jiang, the home of his ancestors, within a year or two. He is still young and active, and I suspect that he may intend to look for a bride. Hidden in the Tibetan valleys north of Hkakabo Razi, and elsewhere in the eastern Himalayas, there may be other descendents of the pygmy people described by Western visitors a century ago” ...
P. Christiaan Klieger is a research associate in the Department of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences, and the author of several books on Tibetan and Hawaiian cultures.
Randall Lapolla PhD. Internet site on the Rawang is comprehensive. See http://victoria.linguistlist.org/~lapolla/rda/
“Our studies comparing the Taron (or T’rone) Pygmies of Burma, Tibet and western Yunnan China may have an impact on the scientific thinking concerning the debate about the recently discovered archaeological remains of “pygmies or hobbits” on the island of Flores Indonesia.”
Richard D. Fisher May 2009
The following article illustrates the research of Richard D. Fisher being discussed and explored relating to the pygmies of the Tibetan/China/Burma borderlands in 2009.
New bones suggest 'hobbits' were modern pygmies
§ Heated debate
Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum, London, thinks the new study is unlikely to settle the debate.
"For me the importance of the Palau material is more what it tells us about the extreme plasticity of the human skeleton in the speed and extent of this island dwarfing process - far more than observed in modern humans before," he says
Richard D. Fisher
Photographer, Author, Publisher
Map of the borderlands of Tibet/China/Burma. I am working in an arch around
the Northern border of Myanmar as there are a number of tribal groups that
probably qualify as “pygmies” in this region. The populations here
have been relatively stable for the past century or so and modern “progress” is
just now beginning to bring in large numbers of taller ethnic groups.
Quotes from a recent article published in The New York Times:
"Six years after their discovery, the extinct little people nicknamed hobbits who once occupied the Indonesian island of Flores remain mystifying anomalies in human evolution, out of place in time and geography, their ancestry unknown. Recent research has only widened their challenge to conventional thinking about the origins, transformations and migrations of the early human family."
"Were these primitive survivors of even earlier hominid migrations out of Africa, before Homo erectus migrated about 1.8 million years ago? Could some of the earliest African toolmakers, around 2.5 million years ago, have made their way across Asia?
"Everything about them seems incredible. They were very small, not much more than three feet tall, yet do not resemble any modern pygmies. They walked upright on short legs, but might have had a peculiar gait obviating long-distance running. The single skull that has been found is no bigger than a grapefruit, suggesting a brain less than one-third the size of a human's, yet they made stone tools similar to those produced by other hominids with larger brains. They appeared to live isolated on an island as recently as 17,000 years ago, well after humans had made it to Australia."
"Peter Brown, a paleontologist at the University of New England in Australia, said that his examination of the premolars and lower jaws of the specimens made it almost immediately "very, very clear that this was a hominid in the wrong place at the wrong time." The first premolars in particular, he said, were larger than a human's and had a crown and roots unlike those of H. sapiens or H. erectus."
Read full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/science/28hobbit.html
Richard D. Fisher's recognition and discovery of a "Lost Tribe of Tibetan Pygmies"
The story of the Dropa for us begins in the same place, but the year is 1938. The mountains are the Baian-Kara-Ula mountains on the border that divides China and Tibet. An archaeological expedition, led by Chi Pu Tei, has trudged into the barely accessible mountain range, and has happened upon some caves that had obviously been occupied by a primitive people long ago. But what he and his team find in these remote caves is something highly unusual and, if verified, could change everything we know about our distant past. Not all of the facts of this case are clear and, as you'll understand later, difficult to verify. Some of the details are contradictory, fuzzy, or may have been sensationalized by imaginative writers. But even if part of this story is true, it represents one of the greatest discoveries of our age. Chi Pu Tei, a professor of archaeology at Beijing University, was leading some his students on an expedition to survey a series of interlinking caves in the Himalayan mountains. According to one account, the caves may have been artificially carved, and were more like a complex system of tunnels and underground storerooms. The walls were squared and glazed, as if cut into the mountain with a source of extreme heat. Inside the caves were several ancient, but neatly arranged burial sites, and in them the skeletal remains of a strange people. The skeletons, measuring a little more than four feet tall, were frail and spindly with disproportionately large skulls. At first. it was suggested by a member of the team that these might be the remains of an unknown species of mountain gorilla. Professor Chi Pu Tei is reputed to have responded, "Who ever heard of apes burying one another?" Yet, what kind of human was this?