Pygmäen is more traditional and more usual, but ethnologisch useless comprehensive term for the designation of a multiplicity of culturally different societies - approx. 150,000 humans - in Central Africa. Common characteristic is the relatively small body size. The German name is derived from the old-Greek word pygmaios ,which as much as “a fist” means briefly. Language critics such as Andriana Boussoulas recommend to paint the term spareless and to use instead of its for the individual societies their respective self designations. In the colonial linguistic usage Batwa Akka, Bakango, Batschwa, Efe, Mbuti/Bambuti, Binga, Bongo, Bagielli, Ba-Benjelle, Twa became among other thingsPygmäen calls (list African peoples).

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DNA analyses pointon the fact that the Mbuti in the Congo basin represents one of the oldest ancestors of mankind. From them and from the societies of the Khoisan in Botswana entire mankind is to have developed in the last 100,000 years on many detours.

The oldest source, ofPygmäen reported, is a letter of the Egyptian Pharaos Pepi II.(23. Century v. Chr.). There the speech, which along-brought a small man to Yam from the realm, is with which it a Pygmäen apparent concerned of a commercial expedition. This became as gift of highestWorth regards.

settlement areas

peoples in Central Africa, the called Pygmäen, are considered as Urbevölkerung of the today's States of Central African republic, Rwanda, Gabon and democratic Republic of the Congo (in former times Zaire). They live today as since more jeher than hunters and collecting tanks. At present (conditions2004) their number is to amount to still about 140,000 persons.


Bambuti, Binga, Bongo, Bagielli, Twa

you are usually discriminated against by the remaining population and kept partial than body-own.

small stature

in the early dte rodent age runs their growth nearlyas is the case for other humans, only they continue to grow no longer thereafter. Mbuti, Khoisan, Bambuti, Binga, Bongo, Bagielli, Twa among other things have a reduced production of the growth factor IGF. But not at all groups of the Pygmäen this genetic characteristic shows up. The average body size of adult Pygmäen is attachedMen with approx. 152 cm and with women with approx. 147 cm.


you speak different Bantusprachen, which umwohnenden with the languages that them peoples are related.

way of life

as hunters and collecting tanks live it in small groups, thoseof approximately 20 families consist in the jungles. They educate monogame small families.


the jungles ever more strongly of other humans settles there and/or. are destroyed, is endangered the natural habitat of these societies. They are considered as of becoming extinct threatened.

European ones Mythology, literature and art

although one before that 19. Century in Europe nothing details and safe over the Pygmäen knew, concerned themselves one since the beginnings of the antique ones with the topic. Two separate beginnings are to be differentiated, the mythische and the ethnographische.

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Antique one

the term Pygmäen dips already with Homer on (Ilias 3, 3-7). There it is only casually mentioned that the Kraniche in the autumn to the Okeanos fly and to the Pygmäen in pityless fight death bring. There was a Pygmäensage, the Homer at that time thus alreadyexpects to be familiar. This legend was in the entire antique one popular, particularly in the forming art. To the core existence of the Pygmäensage, which was told in different variants and arranged artistic, the following elements belong: The Pygmäen becomes as naked or very meagerly dressed, however agriculture driving cave inhabitantsdescribed at the edge of the inhabited world. After Aristoteles they lived in the swampy area of the sources of Nile; some authors call other areas. Their combat capability is called low, what has its reason in its small size. For these the usual acceptance varied between approx. 30 cm andsomewhat less than a meter. With the “fist length”, from which the word Pygmäe was derived, it concerns the antique Greek longitudinal dimension pygmé (approx. 35 cm). The mortal enemies of the Pygmäen were annual after the legend the Kraniche, against them on lives and deathand they after possibility fought their clutches of eggs and new generation destroyed. The Pygmäen was armed, was however usually subject and by the Kranichen was killed. This “Kranichkampf” (Geranomachie) employed the fantasy many Greek, etruskischer and Roman artists. It became as tragikomisches and unterhaltsames motiveon vases and drinking containers, wall paintings and Gemmen represented. One understood this as Parodie on the hero legend. Also Statuetten, reliefs, mosaics and lamps showed Pygmäen.

Independently of this myth there was ethnographische message over kleinwüchsige African south the Libyan desert. Herodot (II, 32-33) reports thatfive young adventurers, who had crossed the desert from Libya, were taken prisoner by small humans, who lived at a large river. This calls Herodot not Pygmäen, differentiates thus clearly between the Pygmäenmythos and the report over that expedition. The habitat that was actualPygmäenvölker in former times many more expanded than today; still around 1930 Pygmäen at the Bahr aluminium-Ghazal in the south Sudan were observed.

the Middle Ages

in the Middle Ages one was dependent on the antique excessive quantity; alleged eye-witness reports, according to which dead Pygmäen was brought to Europe, are not reliable. In that at that timerelevant latin Bible translation, the Vulgata, the designation Pygmäen comes forwards (Ezechiel 27, 11). At the latemedieval universities was debated, whether the Pygmäen is humans or whether it concerns a special kind of ape, to a certain extent an intermediate stage between humans and animal. These discussions13 played in. Century during the definition of the definition characteristics of the term humans an important role. Furthermore a Pygmäenepisode was taken up to the popular duke seriousness legend; Duke Ernst intervenes on the side of the Pygmäen in the fight against the Kraniche, in the Orient, because oneassumed the country of the Pygmäen also - like already individual antique authors - in the east.

The Pygmäensage with the Kranichkampf was until China common; she is in Chinese encyclopedias 7. to 9. Century n. Chr., where the size of the Pygmäen with scarceone indicates to three foot.


modern times in the early modern times natural scientists and physicians, philosophers, Philologen and theologian the Pygmäendebatte eagerly. In 16. and 17. Century was denied often the existence of the Pygmäen or stated, it concerns an animal species; someTheologians regarded it as Dämonen. In the epoch of the clearing-up one regarded it as fabulous creature. Of these theoretical discussions were independent since late 16. Century individual authentic message over kleinwüchsige African peoples to Europe compact, found however little attention. As in the first half19. Century more detailed reports of discoverers were present, did not speak one first not of Pygmäen. With this designation to the antique myth one tied only later. With the fact one did not note that it already in the antique one a distinction between the Pygmäenmythos and reports on kleinwüchsige Africangave.


  • Susan Arndt and Antje Hornscheidt (Hg.): Africa and the German language. A critical reference book. 2004, ISBN 3-89771-424-8

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