Mongolia’s Yeti – The Almas

For centuries Mongolian nomads have told countless legends about huge, wild creatures who bear a vague resemblance to man roaming the central Asian Mountain ranges.

The creature is called Almas in Mongolia and is known as snowman, Yeti, or bigfoot in other countries, and it is bear-like, with thick, coarse, dark brown hair covering his entire body. Many places in rural Mongolia have been named after this strange phenomenon. Even some researchers claim this confirms the Almas once existed in Mongolia.

Even today, as Mongolia becomes increasingly urban sophisticated, herders still tell stories of sighting the Almas or claim to have discovered huge, unidentified footprints or the outline of a large, heavy body laid to rest in deep snow or soft mud. Harsh, continuous wails have been echoing across the open steppe. The Almas is supposedly still living in some concealed corners of the Altai mountain range, and several have traditionally lived in the Gobi desert, which covers much of southern Mongolia. The Almas is solitary, always living alone, but occasionally seeking a companion of the opposite sex. There are, of course, both male and female of the species, and female Almases are said to be even more ferocious than males when roused into anger. The Almas usually live in a well-concealed cave, emerging only under cover of darkness and eating a diet of raw meat, seeds, plant and tree roots.

Romantic, religious, at times gory, and even comical, the truth of the Almas legends has become less important than their telling. They are an integral part of Mongolia’s ancient oral tradition. Usually told in the candlelight of a Mongolian nomadic tent (ger) during the long, dark winter evenings, this is the first translation of one of the Almas legends published in English. Please enjoy it.

His Second Family

89-year-old Ravjir, a resident of Gobi-Altai* province, told an Almas legend she heard from her own mother when she was a child. Ravjir always claimed the legend was based on a real-life incident.

The large Balgan family lived near Ravjir’s mother’s home with their many children. During one particularly hot summer day, Balgan’s children were playing in the shadow of a camel cart. The youngest of the children, two-year-old Khanu, was lying near his brothers and sisters, dozing in the sun. Suddenly the young children realized Khanu had vanished, they couldn’t see him anywhere. After a little while, the entire family began to search, but after scouring their local village they were still without their son.

Mother and father, brothers and sisters searched high and low for several days, finally giving up in tears, believing he must have been dragged off by a wild animal whilst they were unaware. The family was forced to forget Khanu.

Four years later the Balgan family were eating their dinner by candlelight in their ger. Balgan, who was sitting at the rear of his ger, suddenly noticed what looked like a slender lambs leg poking through a small hole in the ger wall. Intrigued, he knelt down by the canvas wall and saw that it was actually the small, dark hand of a child. When Balgan caught hold of the hand, it slid out of his grasp.

He told his wife to try and catch this disappearing child. She slipped out of their ger and caught hold of the small creature, trapping him by holding him close. Balgan’s wife tried to bring the matted-haired child into their ger, but he struggled, pushing his hands and feet against the door. Balgan helped his wife to drag the kicking child into the warmth. They shone their lamp onto him, trying to indentify him, but he passed out in the brilliant light, as through it was too powerful for his large, blinking eyes. Balgan’s wife gasped. She could see a large, brown birthmark, in exactly the same spot on the child’s face as their young son Khanu, whom they hadn’t seen for more than four years.

The child soon awoke but had to be tied to the wall with rope as he continually tried to escape from the ger. He slowly grew taller and stronger by drinking milk broth and gradually got used to his new family, though he dived and cowered under the bed whenever visitors entered the ger. Their son, for it was Khanu they had discovered, spent two years in their ger without speaking, but, aged eight, began to utter words and understand some of what was being said to him. Khanu was finally able to explain to his real parents that he had been fed and reared by large, bear-like wild ‘parents’, covered in dark hair, who didn’t speak his language, which he then gradually forgot. His parents were convinced his second family must have been Almases. Khanu told his human mother that his other mother had died in a terrible, bloody fight with a bear and his ‘father’ had carried him back to his ger in Gobi-Altai. Khanu obviously pined for his former life on the steppe and tragically died soon after relaying his story and was buried in Gobi-Altai.

source: Mongolia’s Yeti – The Almas by T. Battulga

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