He sleeps standing up or leaning back in the trunks of trees, and his feet are inverted: the heels in front and the toes projecting from the back.
When he walks, he supports himself with a cane made from the trunk of a tree, and he can devour any person who is lost in the countryside. In fact, this is his favorite meal.
With these words, the Yucatecan social anthropologist Carlos Augusto Evia Cervantes, who presides over the “Grupo Espeleológico Ajau de Mérida”, paints a picture of this peculiar character.
We can take a closer look at this fascinating subject by reviewing the notes from the “VIII Congreso Nacional Mexicano de Espeleología” which took place in February 2007, where this anthropologist participated with the topic “The myth of the wild man of the caves.”
Evia Cervantes, in researching the presence of this myth in Yucatán, turned to the most representative of home-grown legends. And there he found the story of a journalist who noticed an unsettling rumor in the communities of the municipality of Tecoh.
It referred to a man 2 meters tall (6 ft. 6 in.), very long hair, with a hairy body, who inhabited caves, and who wandered at night over the roads and valleys deep in the hills of the southern part of the state.
It was also stated that he had been found in the lowlands closer to the populated villages. He was described as something frightful: like a gorilla or a bear, but walking upright, and he made a hoarse panting sound. Others, who did not manage to see him directly, swore that they had stumbled on his footprints.
The myth from the inside:
Expert Evia Cervantes, interpreting the myth and paying attention to its social significance and symbolic content, indicates that it is a way of expressing and condemning the negative examples of community life.
These stories don’t openly formulate the breaking of the rules, but rather indicate that those who do so are undesirables. In fact, he is not considered part of the social entity because he inhabits the caves and countryside: what is outside the community’s daily life.
It is understood that a person capable of committing this type of action can be expelled, or at the very least rejected, by the group to whom he belongs. Indirectly, the guidelines of behavior that are positively valued are those which allow social harmony, and which reinforce the identity of those who tell the story.
Contribution: Yurina Fernández Noa
Email: [email protected]
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