Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 20th, 2006
It is so hot lately in the northern hemisphere, perhaps thoughts should turn to snow, snowmen, Abominable Snowmen, and Yetis.
Over at Boing Boing, David Pescovitz has an intriguing post about a “Yeti skin rug.” Pescovitz writes:
UK artist Debra Swann transforms everyday materials “into fantastical objects” such as Sellotape animal exoskeletons, faux taxidermy made from dried plants, and this beautiful Yeti Skin Rug.
This reminds me of Marc Swanson’s White Yeti (a/k/a “Killing Moon”) – below – that is presently on exhibition at Bates College’s Cryptozoology: Out of Time Place Scale.
Swanson’s Yeti has been sighted before, in different configurations (below). It is a striking image, and one that many people who have seen the current show at Bates have mentioned to me often. I was happy to have met artist Swanson at the exhibition’s opening in June, and discuss the depth of his interest in cryptozoology. His dedication to the subject was apparent to me that night, and I agreed with his parents, who drove up from Maryland, that his passion is reflected in this unique sculpture.
(For more about the exhibition and a new photo of Marc Swanson’s Yeti, see “Mysterious & Kooky.” )
Such art is definitely very cool (on many metaphorical levels), and is wonderfully grounded in cryptozoology. Who could have ever imagined such an explosion of things would today exist in art galleries?
With their origins in reality, these white Yetis are representing cryptids that are generally not white, except as frquently found in the minds’ eye in Western myth. Traditionally, for example, in Nepal, Sikkim, and Tibet, eyewitnesses have sightings of Yetis they describe as the basic primate blacks to brownish reds.
That’s okay. This is popular culture reflecting the evolution of the Yeti. It seems that as soon as the mistranslation to “Abominable Snowman” occurred from the native names for these creatures into English in 1921, the notion has been that these unknown hairy hominoids are white. It is one of those strange twists of cryptozoological history that is still being seen vividly in Yeti toys and souvenirs. And now inspires art.
The new Orlando attraction at Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest has a correctly colored brownish Yeti, but the Disney store there is filled with white Yetis, as Cryptomundo’s Craig Woolheater observed here earlier .