Pygmies The Shortest Ethnic Race of Humans Found on Earth The term Pygmy can be defined as any ethnic group whose average height would be much lower than the world average, to be precise any group whose male members would not grow taller than 150 cm or a little below the five foot mark. There are several such races that inhabit parts of central Africa. Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea and parts of Brazil are the other parts of the world that are inhabited by this particular type of people. Though it may sound a bit weird to know that such an ethnic group of people do exist, it is a fact that they have been coexisting from time immemorial. As the term Pygmy is sometimes considered to be somewhat derogatory, most people belonging to this group would rather be referred to by the names of their clans like Aka, Baka, Mbuti, Twa and Bambenga. These tribes are found in Central African Republic and the Congo regions. The term Pygmy itself has its origins from a Latin term Pygmaei denoting a measure of length, the approximate length from the elbows to the knuckles of a clenched fist. Greek and Indian mythologies contain references of dwarfish people existing in parts of India and Africa. The short stature of the Pygmies is mainly attributed to hereditary traits which could have evolved over a period of time due to their living deep in the jungles devoid of sufficient sunlight and subsequently low penetration levels of ultra violet rays, which could have contributed to stunted growth. This could have been because of low levels of Vitamins in the body resulting in undernourished bone structures. They are efficient huntergatherers in spite of disadvantageous physical capabilities, and were experts in tracking their prey. They also bartered the meat and other forest produce for cultivated food and other products from the neighboring tribes who were more advanced.Each tribe had its own dialect and customs and traditions. However, there were instances of intermarriage among various tribes when the new bride moved into the grooms dwelling after the groom had paid a price that was mutually agreed upon. Another advantage the groom got out of marrying a woman living far away from his territory was that he gained hunting rights in new territories and improved his status in the social strata. Some tribes had the practice of making it a condition that the groom moved to the bride's area for a period of time and got accustomed to their living style and culture and then paid the "dowry" or bride price to his prospective inlaws before the marriage could be solemnized. An amazing yet sensible custom with most tribes was that there would always be a gap of a minimum of three years between children. This was because the wife needed to be moving around with the husband in search of new hunting terrain and it would be hampered if she had an infant that needed to be carried around. However, they did not stop to think twice over making a 3 year old walk or run as the case may be, along with them in their hunting expeditions. And the remarkable thing was that reproduction was avoided by voluntary restraint and not any other method of contraception, as it was quite unknown and unheard of. Surprisingly, stray cases of spurofthemoment conceptions ended up as abortions without any sense of remorse. Yet another thought provoking custom was that a woman with a grown up daughter would voluntarily abstain from sex after the daughter got married and had children of her own. This was to ensure that sufficient time and attention was given to the grandchildren. Similar programs on various cultures worldwide are aired periodically by several service providers like Dish TV. Randy Collins is a freelance writer with varied interests that include studying the customs, cultures and traditions of different ethnic groups, which he does on Dish TV.
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