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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: INTRODUCING THE KHON-PAA, A TRANSPARENT APE-MAN FROM EARLY 19TH CENTURY THAILAND

The other day I was looking up the words 'Strange animals in Laos' when I came across the following intriguing information in Google Books:

Among the strange animals belonging to Siam, there is one described under the name of Khon Pāā, which belongs to the known genus of natural history. This animal has been seen by the prince and hundreds of others, yet we must confess, we are inclined to doubt the accuracy of description. The Khon Pāā resembles a man; it is five feet high, walks erect, has no knee joints, and runs faster than a horse.Should he accidentally fall, he is forced to crawl to a tree or something else, by which he again raises himself on his feet. His skin is transparent as a China horn lantern; his entrails are distinctly seen through it, and his abdomen shines like a looking-glass – credit qui vult, non ego. Under the superstitious notion, that the presence of the animal in Bankok was unlucky, his owners were bambooed, and all their property was confiscated by the king for bringing him there. This treatment caused so much terror, that no one has since ventured to bring a specimen of the beast from his native lurking places (1)

The transparent skin reminds me of E.T.'s glowing belly!

The Khon-Paa has by today been transformed,thus: 'Traditionally, in Thailand, the forest has a negative connotation. For example, the term Khon paa (forest people) is a perjorative term for the backward, uncivilised,and wild, as opposed to Khon meuang (town people) , which relates to the modern,clean,and well educated….' (2)


1. W.S.W.Ruschenberger. (c.1835) A voyage round the world: including an embassy to Muscat and Siam in 1835 pp294-295
2. C.O.Delang The Political Ecology of Deforestation in Thailand. Geography vol 90(3) 2005 p.234

2 comments:

Dale Drinnon said...

I have read about the "Seeing through the belly into the entrails" in a book about ancient Chinese medicine, and it is Folkloric, it could not have been taken as literally true the other example I am writing about. So I think it must have some hidden meaning or obscure reference. The straight legs with no knees is DEFINITELY Folkloric and it is otherwise known from Europe to the Americas ("Stiff-legged Bear")

On the other hand, the use of the term as a reference to a rude uncultured person from the back woods does sound as though the original meaning was to a standard Wildman type. Sometimes the popular stories people tell about Cryptids are something completely different from what the actual reports would be, and the actual reports are much more mundane.

Dale Drinnon said...

When I was a kid there was a boogeyman story going around about a supernatural Ogre called Crystalguts, and you could see his entrails right through his belly. I imagine the rumor stated out as a ghost story and became traditional.