Stories about the Yeti date back thousands of years, especially in the Himalayan nations. Legends say it can be seen only when it comes down from the high mountains to lower elevation and that it passes through the forests and into the villages where it surprises or scares people and sometimes kills a yak for food. Several climbers claim to have seen an unusual animal on their way up Mount Everest. A few have taken photographs of very large footprints in the snow, claiming they belong to the Yeti. It has another name that many people will recognize: Abominable Snowman. Think of a big human-like animal covered in white hair, with huge canine teeth and very big footprints.
But now, no one’s looking for the Yeti.
Until recently it was common for people in Bhutan to share stories of their encounters with the Himalayan yeti. But with the arrival of modernity, villagers no longer need to climb high into the mountains, where they once saw traces of the yeti – or thought they did. So a legend is slowly fading away.
Seventy-three-year-old Kama Tschering often sits in the doorway of his centuries-old farmhouse – the frame is decorated with intricate paintings of mythical beasts to ward off evil spirits.
He agrees to tell me what he knows about the yeti.
“According to the stories that I have heard from my parents and grandparents, the yeti’s hair is similar to that of a monkey but its feet and hands are more like ours – but very huge. The yeti is also said to have long, thick hair on its head that falls down to its chest,” he says.
“The third King of Bhutan is said to have led an exploration team to search for the yeti. He told his men if they came across it, they should run downwards because the yeti wouldn’t be able to see them – its long hair would cover its eyes, obstructing its vision. He told them if they ran up the mountain, the yeti’s hair would fall back making it easy for him to catch the men.”
Although no-one in this village has ever been attacked by the yeti, Kama has heard of an incident that took place further east.
“A group of men had gone into the mountains to look for a particular tree, which they used to carve masks. When a yeti appeared and chased them, one man disappeared. He hid in a small house used for meditation.
“The yeti is said to have destroyed the house, bringing down the walls. The yeti didn’t eat the man but he was brutally killed. All his body parts were dismembered and thrown away.”