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however, depends on the nature of the country—in the parched deserts of the south they are not even united to this extent. Sometimes they are to a certain extent dependent on more powerful tribes, who afford them protection in return for certain services. Their notions of the Unseen, when they have any, would appear to be of the very crudest. Their languages seem to be distinct from others, related among themselves, and very peculiar. This is a point to which I shall revert later on.

Leaving aside the classical writers,[1] the earliest reference to the Pygmies occurs in the narrative of Andrew Battell,[2] who spent three years in the kingdom of Loango during the first decade of the seventeenth century. He says:

To the north-east of Mani Kesock are a kind of little people called Matimbas, which are no bigger than Boyes of twelve yeares olde, but verie thicke, and live onely upon fleshe, which they kill in the woods with their Bowes and Darts. They pay tribute to Mani Kesock, and bring all their Elephants' teeth and tayles to him. They will not enter into any of the Marombos' houses, nor will suffer any to come where they dwell. And if by chance any Marombo, or people of Loango passe where they dwell, then they will forsake that place and go to another. The Women carry Bow and Arrowes as well as the men. And one of these will walk in the Woods alone, and kill the Pongo with their poysoned Arrowes.

The Flemish geographer Dapper, writing in the seventeenth century, refers to the Pygmies in the following passage:

Before the King's cloth sit some Dwarfs, with their backs towards him; Pigmies indeed in stature, but with heads of a prodigious bigness; for the more exact deforming whereof they wear the skin of some Beast tied round about them. The Blacks say there is a Wilderness where reside none but men of such a stature, who shoot those Gigantick Creatures, the Elephants. The common name of these dwarfs is Bakke-Bakke; but they are also called Mimo's.[3]

These Bakke-Bakke (whose name reminds us of Akkas, Tikki-Tikki, and Wambatti, and possibly Batwa) seem at first sight to come under the heading of true dwarfs, or natural malformations; but the disproportioned heads may be an accidental mistake magnified by report. The other items of the account tally with the descriptions of Battell and others—the skins of beasts, worn "for the more exact deforming of the head," are probably the leopard and monkey skin caps worn among many of the Congo tribes at the present day.

  1. An excellent summary of what is said by these, and also of modern discoveries up to 1871, is given in an article, Ueber Zwergvölker in Africa (to which I have been greatly indebted in the preparation of this paper), in Petermann's Mittheilungen for that year.
  2. Purchas, vol. ii, p. 983.
  3. Description of the Kingdom of Lovango, or the Countrey of the Bramas in Nether Ethiopia. (Africa: Collected and translated from most authentick Authors. By John Ogilby, Esq. 1670.)