Giants in History, Myth, and Legend (Part 5)

Rwanda – Burundi

● Watusi Giants
Practically everyone has seen on film or at least heard about the very tall Watusi, who are famous for their dancing. For those who may never have seen them, Glenn D. Kittler offers the following superbly drawn word-picture: “For the most colorful and exciting dancing, you must go to Ruanda-Urundi… east of the Congo. Here the ruling tribe is the Watusi, the tallest people in the world. It has been said that these giants are born six feet tall, and when you walk among them you can believe it. Men towering seven or eight feet are a common sight. Women gain height by having their heads bound into conical shape in infancy, then training their thick hair to grow straight up to add a few inches. Beholding these lean, dignified, soft-spoken giants is quite overwhelming–and they know it.”


● Pusio and Secundilla
During his principate, Caesar Augustus (27 B.C.-A.D. 14) assigned two giants who towered over ten feet tall to lead the Roman armies into battle. “On account of this remarkable height,” writes Pliny, the bodies of the two giants “were preserved in the tomb in Sallust’s Gardens; their names were Pusio and Secundilla.” 

● Battle of Telamon 
In a decisive battle at Telamon in 225 B.C., Roman legionnaires by chance caught seventy thousand invading Celts between their two armies. That bloody day the Latins killed forty thousand of the giant warriors from across the Apennines and captured another ten thousand.


● Loushkin
An eight-foot-five-inch Russian giant named Loushkin served as drum major in the imperial regiment of guards, Préobrajenskéy. A figure of him, dressed in his military outfit, was included by Madam Tussaud in her exhibition, along with casts of his thigh bone (twenty-six inches) and tibia (twenty-two inches).

● Machnow
In 1882, at Charkow, Russia, a baby named Machnow was born. He eventually grew to a height of nine feet three inches and weighed three hundred and sixty pounds. Machnow thus became history’s tallest man on record, with even the most conservative of British encyclopedias accepting the above figure as a true and accurate mea-surement. “From his wrist to the top of his second finger,” reports the February 10, 1905, issue of The Times, “he measured 2 ft.” The Russian giant exhibited in London, the United States, Germany, Holland, and elsewhere


● Little John
Hector Boetius, in his History of Scotland, reports that the bones of a Scottish giant nicknamed “Little John,” who stood fourteen feet high, were still to be seen in his day. 


● Mazara Giants
In July, 1812, an Italian journal reported that in the valley of Mazara in Sicily the skeleton of a man ten feet and three inches in length was dug up. It was noted that several other human skeletons of gigantic size had previously been found in the same area


●  Valencia Giant
In his book, Giants, Roy Norvill reports that the bones of a man twenty-two feet tall were recovered from his grave near Valencia, Spain.


● Daniel Cajanus 
Standing “above eight feet high,” the Swedish giant Daniel Cajanus billed himself as the “Wonderful Giant.” It was, his pro-moter states in a handbill, “humbly presumed that of all the natural curiosities which have been exhibited to the publick, nothing has appeared for many ages so extraordinary in its way as this surprising gentleman.”

● Swedish Giant
Frederick I of Prussia, father of King Frederick William I, had in his guard a Swede who had a height advantage of eight feet six inches.


● La Tene Giants
According to Henri Hubert, some Celtic swords that archaeologists recovered “from the second period of La Tene are about 96 inches long.” And some of the “the latest swords,” he adds, “are still longer.” The recovered swords of course offer mute testimony to the extraordinary size of the Celtic giants who once wielded them.

● Swiss Giant
In 1784, a Swiss man standing nine feet high exhibited himself to astonished patrons at Vienna, says the Gentleman’s Magazine for that year.

● Swiss Giantess
According to an 1824 promotion, “upwards of three hundred persons” daily besieged the house at number 63 Piccadilly to get a peep at the “Swiss Giantess,” who touted herself as “the finest and most beautifully proportioned giantess in Europe.” An April 16, 1824, advertisement in the Morning Herald indicates her great success brought forth an imitator. The notice reads: “The public are most respectfully cautioned against the imposition of a person now travelling about London in a caravan, calling him or herself the Swiss Giantess, as the real Swiss Giantess is exhibiting at No. 63, Piccadilly, opposite St. James-street, and continues to be the leading object of attraction among the fashionable amusements of the day. …Open from 11 till 5.”

Terra del Fuego

● In the account given of the voyage of George Spilbergen, we are told that on the coast of Terra del Fuego, which is to the south of Magellan’s Streights, his people saw a man of a gigantic stature, climbing the hills to take a view of the fleet, but, though they went on shore, they saw no other human inhabitant; they saw, however, several graves containing bodies of the ordinary size, or rather below it; and the savages they saw from time to time in canoes, appeared to be under six feet high.


● The four gods created the giants who were very large men endowed with enough strength to uproot trees with their hands.  They are called Quinametzin Huetlacame, which means large and deformed men.  Nahuatl codexes go as far as to mention a king among the giants, Tlatlotl, “who built great things and was taken for a god.”  Another chronicle describes how Xelhua, another giant, built an artificial column “in the shape of a pyramid”.  The Codex Vaticanus 3738 depicts one of these giants.


● In Southeast Turkey, the Euphrates Valley, many tombs containing giants 14 – 16 feet tall were unearthed in 1950. 


● One of legendary Arthur’s men, Owain ap Macsen, slew, and was slain by, a giant at Dinas Emrys in Snowdonia.  The cairn at the top of Yr Wyddfa, topmost peak of Snowdon, is said to be the tomb of the giant Rhitta Gawr, who was vanquished by Arthur.  Rhith means “a form, a shape, a figure, an appearance, a guise.” Gawr means “giant.”   

● Benlli
While building a new road near Mold in Flintshire in 1833, workers came across a tumulus in which they found some bones and a skull of great size, along with a Lorica or golden vest. Most believed the bones to be the remains of the renowned giant Welsh warrior Benlli who lived at Mold (c. A.D. 500), and who was surnamed the “Giant of the Golden Vest.”


●  Marco Polo tells of running into a gigantic people in Zanzibar. All the people are idolaters, they have a king and a language of their own and pay tribute to no one. The men are large and fat, although they are not tall in proportion to their bulk. They are strong limbed and as hefty as giants. They are so strong that they can carry as many as four ordinary men. This is not altogether surprising because while they can carry as many as four men, they eat enough for five. 

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