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Wildman in China

11 September 2006

In the popular notion, Shennong (Divine Farmer 神农) is Red Emperor who established agriculture industry and herbal medicine business. According to Daoism, Shennong is Divine King of Man, one of three Divine Kings who ranks above the five Legendary Emperors. In any case, Shennong is an important figure in the history of Chinese civilisation.

Yet ironically, a geo park in China named after him has everything to do with the opposite.

Four Seasons in Shennongjia

Shennong Jia is a nature reserve located between Daba Mountain and Sacred Daoist Mt. Wudang at the juncture of three provinces - Hunan, Yunnan and Sichuan. It not only has the wild landscape that is largely untamed by the farming industry, but a wild reputation of being the home to wild man.

Some Chinese volunteers have been on the hot pursuit of the giants for decades, and since 1976, several state-sponsored expeditions by scientists and army personnel were also carried out. The number of eyewitnesses to the alleged wild men mounts to hundreds, and some locals say they also heard them roaring.

It is like a voice from the remote past prior to the era of the Divine Farmer – Shennong; in the land named after him, some tribes might well have fled the thrall of the Chinese civilisation.

While continuously fiddling about with history, these possibly existed wild men also keep teasing the people who think they are the only masters of the land. The mythical beings make themselves visible only by their invisibility, leaving a few giant footprints here and there for scientists to argue among themselves, but keeping their true identity hazy in the distant moonlight.

Mythical wild man in Shennongjia

It seems a curtain of obscurity shrouded on those who defy the verdict of Shennong, the Divine Farmer, will never been lifted.

Or perhaps not!

Dwelling in murky corners of the modern world are not just those who take refugee in Shennongjia. According to some Chinese researchers, in the deep forest bordering Burma and Vietnam, there might be ten thousand of tribe people living in a pre-agricultural existence.

Due to the persistent efforts of some elements in Chinese society who try to project the past into the present for whatever reasons, recently 76 tribesmen and women walked out of their ancestral home of warm and moist forest, and traveled across the country to resettle in a cold and dry northeast province.

They seemingly possess exceptional physical abilities that normally reserved for highly accomplished qigong or kung fu masters. With bare foot they climb a ladder made of knives, stomp on a blazing wood, or dance in a pool full of glass shreds. And their tongue can lick through the surface of a scorching blade.

Southwest tribesman in Northeast

Whether these people should be called wild men are questionable. They may just be those who appear sure of their allegiance and sure of their path therefore refuse to follow the trend. But now as they have finally left their ancestral land, so might be their time-honoured way of life. An era once lost may never again return.


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