Taiwanese Negritos

Climb Snow Mountain, Taiwan

The Austronesian speaking tribes of Taiwan are recognized as the island’s indigenous inhabitants. But what if they were not the first to settle Taiwan. Oral tradition among the Saisiyat people points to an earlier population resembling the ‘Negritos’ of Southeast Asia who died out long ago. If true, then this ancient group would be the first human beings to live in Taiwan.

‘Negritos’, or Asiatic Pygmies, is the word ethnographers use for the indigenous peoples of maritime Southeast Asia. Unlike the dominant Malay, Indonesian and Fillipino populations, Negritos are under 150 cms and dark-skinned. They include groups like the Aeta, Semang and Sentinelese, who although diverse in culture and language, share a similar appearance. Negritos descend from the first people to arrive in Southeast Asia and were displaced by more numerous farmers and seafarers 5,000 years ago.

The Saisiyat are an aboriginal group of 6,000 from northwestern Taiwan. Anthropologists believe the Saisiyat to be among the first peoples to settle Taiwan. Among them exist oral accounts of an earlier Negrito population.

Every two years
, the Saisiyat celebrate Pas’tai’ai – the ‘Ritual to the Short People’, and the tribe’s largest celebration. Thousands gather to sing, dance and drink rice wine, wearing blades of silver grass to protect them from ill-fortune. Performers wear coloured robes, beads, beads, bells and mirrors, which clang as they dance. Other rituals take place in secret and are closed to outsiders. Pas’tai’ai takes place on the tenth lunar month and lasts several nights. The festival was at risk of dying out until a succesful revitalisation in the the 2010s.

Legend has it that the Saisiyat once lived by a tribe of dark skinned ‘short people’ they called the ‘Ta’ai’. A river separated the two peoples. Relationships were cordial until around a thousand years ago, the Ta’ai took interest in Saisiyat women. According to one version, they made advances on the chieftain’s wife during the harvest festival. In anger, the Saisiyat turned on the Ta’ai and killed all but two. Some versions say they forced a battle, others they cut down a bridge, some say a tree fell on the Ta’ai.

The two survivors were elders.
They warned the Saisiyat that the spirits of their people would cure them unless they kept their culture alive. The elders then taught the Saisiyat the dances and songs of the T’ai, which they recited every two years to this day. Local caves said to house the Ta’ai spirits are forbidden to visitors. The Saisiyat tell of sickness and misfortune befalling those who visit them.

The Ta’ai of legend resemble Philippine Negritos. Dutch colonists of the 1600s wrote accounts of ‘Little People’ were once common and similar, though less developed accounts, still exist amongst the Tsou tribes of Taiwan.

AETA PEOPLE: ONE OF THE FIRST AFRICAN NATIVES OF ASIA AND ...
Aeta people are indigenous to Luzon, Phillippines

Archaeologists have found no trace of an earlier, Negrito presence in Taiwan. A 2019 genetic study, however, noted ‘strong genetic affinity’ between the Saisiyat and Atayal, and Philippine Negritos, but stated this could not support a past Negrito presence in Taiwan’.

Folk tales of pixie and dwarf-life people are common in other Austronesian cultures, particularly the Haiwaiians and Māori traditions. However, the Ta’ai of Saisiyat folklore does resemble real people in the neighbouring Philippines. As hunter-gatherers leave less remains than settled communities, it is entirely possible there was once a small Negrito population living in the mountains of Taiwan. Their memory lives on in a thousand year old ritual still held today.

Sources: BBC, Edelweiss Journal of Biomedical Research and Review, Taiwan Museum Reuters

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Taiwanese Aborigines

BIGCAT: The beautiful original peoples of Taiwan

Taiwanese aborigines are the original people of Taiwan. They settled the island over 6,000 of years ago. Today, most Taiwanese are of Han Chinese ancestry – the 569,000 aborigines are 2% of the population. They belong to around 20 different tribes.

The Austronesian language family began in Taiwan. In ancient times, settlers from Taiwan took to the sea. Their descendants became the modern inhabitants of Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Polynesia. Of the 9 subdivisions in the Austronesian language family, 8 are exclusive to Taiwan. The descendants of those who remained are the modern Taiwanese aborigines.

Which areas of Taiwan still have indigenous Taiwanese ...

Taiwanese aborigines did not consider themselves a single people but as members of one tribe or another, such as the Truku or Atayal. Some lived in the island’s western plains, where most Taiwanese cities stand today, others in the wilder, mountainous west.

The plains tribes lived in bamboo villages. They grew millet, fished and hunted deer. When the Dutch colonised Taiwan (Formosa) in the 1600s, mass-scale Han Chinese immigration assimilated the plain tribes. The modern Taiwanese census does not recognise the 200,000 or so plains aborigines as a separate people.

The mountain tribes had little contact with settlers until the 19th century. Headhunting was a common rite of passage. In some tribes, if a man did not take an enemy’s head in his life, he would not pass into the next. Mountain tribes hunted wild game and had facial tattoos. They traded pelts and camphor to Han settlers in exchange for guns and iron.

In response to raids, the Japanese invaded Taiwan’s interior in the 1890s. They considered the aboriginals barbarians to be vanquished, and over the next forty years, cowed the indigenous tribes one by one.

When the Sediq rebelled in 1930, Japanese authorities bombarded them with artillery and killed 600.

Taiwanese aborigines fought as specialist jungle troops for Japan in WW2. One of them, Terumo Nakamura, did not surrender until 1974.

The Kuomintang dictatorship that ruled Taiwan from 1945 – 1987, pushed a vigorous assimilation campaign through interrmarriage and education.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2467/4076005182_7101a519fc.jpg
Bunun people, c.1900.

The Yami people live on Orchid Island off the coast of Taiwan. In 1982 their government dumped nuclear waste on the island, which the Yami have protested since.

Aborigines have been a minority since the 1700s. In modern, democratic Taiwan, they face higher mortality, poverty and unemployment than Chinese-Taiwanese. Of their twenty known languages, ten are now extinct, the rest endangered. Those who move to the cities risk losing their culture, those who stay face poverty.

In the 1860s, European missionaries exploited aboriginal animosity for the Han colonial system to win converts. Today, most aborigines are Christian.

Taiwanese aborigines - AnthroScape

In the 21st century, Taiwan has begun to embrace its aboriginal heritage as a means to distinguish it from mainland China. Aboriginal groups have made been slowly reviving their culture through tourism and education.

In 2016, Taiwanese president Tsai-Ing-Wen, herself of aboriginal descent, officially on behalf of the government for historic oppression of the aboriginal community. She declared August 1st Indigenous People’s Day.

Sources: Cultural Survival, Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs and Steel (1997), New York Times, Taipei Times.

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Asturian Folklore

Asturias: Si vienes, te quedas - YouTube

Asturian Folklore covers the superstitions, tales and legends of the Celtic part of Spain. Pagan beliefs lingered longer here than any other part of the country.

Asturias is a region of northern Spain between the Cantabrian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Like the Basque Country, its isolation bred a distinct cultural identity. Under the Romans and Visigoths, Asturias clung to its Celtic roots. It was also the only part of Iberia to withstand the Moorish invasions and a partisan stronghold for twenty years after Franco won the Civil War. Today Asturias is one of the ‘Six Celtic Nations’, sharing much of its lore with Ireland and Wales. It is a land of green pastures, craggy shores and rugged mountain slopes. Today most Asturians speak Spanish though the native language still has 642,000 speakers.

Until recently, the Cantabrians were impassable in winter. Asturias was a backwater; Christianity, literacy and the Industrial Revolution were slow to spread. Asturian shepherds and fishermen clung to nature and old beliefs. As it was easier to travel by sea, Asturias kept closer ties with Brittany and Ireland than the rest of Spain.

Early Asturians were animists. Every tree, river and cave had a guardian spirit to be respected and feared. Rather than assimilate, the Catholic church denounced Asturian spirits as demons. Their priests, however, failed to extinguish the beliefs of shepherds who spent most of the year in mountain pastures. Belief in supernatural beings survived into the 20th century.

In Asturian folklore, Xanas were benevolent water spirits resembling Naiads of Greek mythology: beautiful women who guarded treasures at the bottom of lakes.

Cuélebre - Wikipedia

The culebre is a cave-dwelling dragon. It evolved from a nature god placated with animal sacrifice in pagan times to a bloodthirsty monster requiring human sacrifice in the Christian era. 

The bogosu, half-man, half-goat is the Asturian satyr. The early bogusu was a guardian of the forests. Christians painted him as a demon to be feared and shunned, and through this lens, stories survive of the ‘devil’ helping Asturian peasants by building bridges and granting technologies.

The Nuberu is a bearded old man in a wide-brimmed hat who lives in the clouds. He controls the rain and lightning and likely derives from the Celtic weather god, Taranis. There are stories of Nuberu falling from the sky and blessing peasants who aid his return.

Trasgu by Viejuno on DeviantArt

The trasgu is a mischievous house spirit who wears a red hat and has a hole in one hand. They like to steal household items and inconvenience families. If one moves house, the trasgu will follow. Today the Trasgu is the region’s unofficial mascot. Many businesses bear its name.

Asturian folk beliefs died out with the modern age. As cities spread and machines transformed the landscape the xanas and culebres were silent.

Sources: David Wacks – Some thoughts on Asturian mythology

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Books I Read in 2020

You would think, 2020 being what it was, this list would be larger. Apparently not.  Much of my reading was spent on work related books not listed, and the 945 page, but yet unfinished ‘Don Quioxte.’ As a result, my list is somewhat shameful in scope. My aim is to read 10 in 2021.


January

  • Time-Life Books – The March of Islam (1988). Explores the early Muslim caliphates, early Anglo-Saxon England, Charlemagne, Tang China, Fujiwara Japan and the Khmer Empire. Good on information, weak on prose. 3/5

February

March

June

  • John Man – Amazons: The Warrior Women of the Ancient World (2018). An accessible survey warrior women in mythology and historical societies from Scythia to Dahomey. 4/5

July

  • Herodotus – The Histories (430 BC). I didn’t ‘finish’ this book so to speak but read large chunks as a reference. Covers the Greco-Persian Wars in detail and explores of the known world of the 5th century BC. 5/5.

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Magic and Religion

The Lararium | Lucus Antiquus

According to The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer, humans understand the natural world through science, religion and magic. Before the Scientific Revolution, the latter two were the lenses through which most saw the world. 

Magic is the belief that one can influence the natural world through ritual and incantation. Like science, it assumes an immutable natural law; unlike science, it reaches such conclusions through received wisdom rather than investigation. By working within these laws, a magic-user can harness invisible forces to manipulate matter from a distance. Such belief systems were once universal and still existed in Frazer’s time. Superstitions and taboos persist to this day.

There are two types of magic: homoeopathic and contagious.

Homoeopathic magic assumes that an effect will always resemble its cause – the Law of Similarity. Ruthenian burglars used to throw human bones over a house to induce its inhabitants into a deathlike sleep. While fighting, Malagasy soldiers avoided eating animals killed by spears for fear they would share their fate. Effigies and voodoo dolls use homoeopathic magic.

Contagious magic assumes invisible forces bind things that were once a part of one another. By stabbing a person’s footprints, for example, one could harm their feet. People put baby teeth by mouse holes so new ones would be strong as a mouse’s. One could hurt a person by burning or beating their garments. In many cultures, a placenta’s resting place determined its owner’s fate.

 ‘The fatal flaw of magic, writes Frazer ‘lies not in its general assumption of a sequence of events determined by law, but in its total misconception of the nature of the particular laws which govern that sequence.’ Belief in magic held because there was no way to refute it. If a rain dance, or a killing curse, appears to fail, for example, a magician needs only wait for the inevitable as proof. Such was the reverence and fear of magic few were willing to refute it.

Many societies believed magic works through an invisible spiritual world. Spirits of nature and the dead can be manipulated or compelled to do one’s bidding through spells and ritual. Ancient Egyptian sorcerers claimed to manipulate the gods themselves to do their will. 

As human societies grew larger and more complicated, so too did their understanding of the world. Rather than see themselves as the centre of the universe, able to manipulate it to their will, they realised human futility and recognised the spirits as not merely magical, but all-powerful and divine. Thus religion superseded magic.

Mexico: Aztec Sacrifice by Granger

Religion is the belief in a higher spiritual power which humans can call on through prayer, sacrifice or conciliation. While magic imposes human will on the divine, religion supplicates oneself to it. People can gain supernatural aid not through coercion or spells, but by seeking divine favour. Christianity, in particular, claims the divine is all-powerful and above human whims, making magic antithetical. Pagan deities were cast out as demons or assimilated as saints. The Aztec Empire believed the sun would not rise unless they sacrificed human hearts to Huitzilopochtli.

Religion and magic often intertwined. When praying for rain failed, Cypriot and Siamese peasants cast holy icons into the sunshine to punish the saints for not heeding their calls. Exposure to harsh sunlight forced the saint or spirit to call the rain. French peasants believed certain priests could perform the mass of Saint Sécaire, a forbidden ritual which compelled the Holy Spirit to kill a designated person.

Science and magic share a belief in natural law. Thus, in Europe, it was not theology but alchemy and Rennaisance magic which made way for the Scientific Revolution. 

‘Its fundamental conception is identical with that of modern science; underlying the whole system is a faith, implicit but real and firm, in the order and uniformity of nature.’

Sources: Sir James Frazer – The Golden Bough (1890)

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Great Conjunctions

Jupiter and Saturn swing by the moon this week ahead of a ...

A Great Conjunction is when Jupiter and Saturn reach the closest point in their orbit, and appear mere degrees apart, as one bright star from Earth. 21 December 2020 will be the first Great Conjunction in 400 years and the closest since 1226. The next will be in 2080.

Jupiter and Saturn are the two largest planets in our solar system. Both are gas giants over nine times the diameter of Earth and the furthest planets from Earth we can see with the naked eye. 

Seeing Uranus, Neptune or Pluto requires a telescope. Jupiter takes 12 earth-years to orbit the sun, Saturn takes 30. During the Great Conjunction, they appear 1° apart with a naked eye and 5° with a telescope.

The Great Conjunction of 2020 will take place on the Winter/Summer Solstice and be best visible in the Northern Hemisphere. The planets will appear in the southwest, with Saturn being above/left of Jupiter in the Northern Hemisphere and below/right in the Southern. With binoculars, you can see Jupiter’s four Galilean moons – Callisto, Europa, Ganymede and Io. With a telescope, you can catch all 75 of its moons and the ‘Great Red Spot’. The conjunction will be visible one hour after sunset.

We know of older conjunctions from astronomical records left by the Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and early modern Europeans. Many, however, were either too shrouded or close to the sun to be visible from Earth.

 Largest visible recorded Great Conjunctions:

  • 1st March 1793 BC – 0.02°, the closest recorded conjunction.
  • 6 March 372 – 0.03°
  • 6 March 372, 0.1°
  • 13 September 709 – 0.1°
  • 4 March 1226 – 0.03°
  • 25 August 1523 – 0.1°
  • 16 July 1623 – 0.08°
  • 21 December 2020 – 0.01°

Polish astronomers observed the Great Conjunction of 1523 from the Krakow Academy and used it to prove Copernicus’s heliocentric model. 

The last Great Conjunction was in 1623, in the early days of the telescope. Jupiter and Saturn appeared 0.08° apart. 2020’s conjunction will be even closer, and the near since 1226 when the hordes of Genghis Khan were ravaging Asia and Saint Francis was in the last year of his life.

Johannes Keppler, the famed German astronomer, suggested in 1614 that the (minor) conjunction of 7 BC was the Star of Bethlehem attested in the Bible. Modern scholarship suggests it is most likely the ‘Star’ was an eclipse of Jupiter by the Moon around 14 April 6 BC, which would have appeared in the west of Judah and thus led the Three Wise Men from the east. 

Sources: Astrtonomy, News Scientist, Wikipedia

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The Queen’s Gambit

'The Queen's Gambit' Trailer: Anya Taylor-Joy's Netflix ...

The Queen’s Gambit (2020) is a period drama miniseries about a female chess prodigy. Set in the 1960s, it follows Beth Harmon from her beginnings as a penniless orphan to international grandmaster. The Queen’s Gambit is based on Walter Tevis’s 1983 book by the same name. It released on Netflix in November 2020. Anna Taylor-Joy (The Witch) stars, Scott Frank (Logan, Godless) and Allan Scott (Castaway) write and direct.

The Queen’s Gambit is a chess opening where white sacrifices their queen’s pawn to gain control of the centre. Beth employs both the gambit and the ‘Sicilian Defense’ throughout the series.

When her mother dies, eight-year-old Beth Harmon of Lexington, Kentucky transfers to the Methuen Home for Christian Girls. There she picks up a habit for tranquillisers and learns to play chess under the rough but loveable janitor Mr Schaibel. As a teenager Beth plays in local tournaments and rapidly rises through the ranks, becoming state champion by the second episode. Despite her success, loneliness and substance abuse beset her. 

Beth is a fictional character. There has never been a female world champion and, to this day, 99 of the world’s top 100 players are male. The Queen’s Gambit presents a heroine who challenges the norm and excels in a male-dominated field. 

Her career resembles Bobby Fischer, an American child prodigy who unseated the Russian world champion Lassky in 1973, 18th-century master Charles Morphy and modern female champion Judit Polgar.

You don’t need to be a chess fan to enjoy this show. Its strength lies in its ability to build emotional suspense through games on a board and balance triumph with despair. Without seeing every move, we can tell the way a game’s course through body language. Chess theory is still a common topic, however, and will delight anyone with even the slightest interest in the game. In the US, chessboard sales went up 87% and books about chess 603%. Chess.com saw 2.5 million registrations the week after Queen’s Gambit’s release. I was one of them.

 The chess community praised the show’s portrayal of the game. Former world champion Gary Kasparov was a consultant.

The Queen’s Gambit makes chess sexy. Beth Harmon is alluring and sympathetic and her fashion-sense enticing Locations like Las Vegas, Mexico City, Paris and Moscow are gorgeously portrayed. Though Beth is central, a supporting cast of characters includes her orphan friend Jolene, and dorky yet good-hearted Harry Beltik and the cocky Benny Watts. Queen’s Gambit popularity spread rapidly through word of mouth; by December, it was Netflix’s most popular show. The New Yorker called it ‘the most satisfying show on television.’ It will likely scoop Emmys in February.

Sources: Bangkok Post, CNN

Nagorno-Karabakh

Republic of Artsakh

Nagorno Karabakh, or Artsakh, is a disputed territory in the southern Caucasus. While officially part of Azerbaijan, it has self-governed since 1994. Its ethnic Armenian population contest Azerbaijani rule. In October 2020 Azerbaijan mobilized to retake the region. Neighbouring Armenia supports Nagorno-Karabakh while Turkey supports Azerbaijan. The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War is the first international conflict of the 2020s.

Nestled in the Caucasus Mountains, between Russia and the Middle East, Nagorno-Karabakh is a green and mountainous land home to over 4,000 ancient monasteries and forts. Its name roughly means ‘Upper Karabakh. While Christian Armenians have the oldest presence in the region, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Azeris and Russians have also ruled. Both Azerbaijan and Armenia claim it as their own.

Timeline:

  • < 180: Indigenous states
  • 180 – 387: Great Armenia
  • 387 – 600s: Sassanian Empire (Persian)
  • 600s – 821: Arab Caliphates
  • 821 – 1261: Kingdom of Artsakh (Armenian)
  • 1261 – 1500s: Principality of Khachen (Armenian)
  • 1500s – 1806: Five Melikdoms (Armenian governors ruling under Persian and Turkic overlords)
  • 1806 – 1918: Russian Empire
  • 1918 – 1991: Soviet Union
  • 1991 – 1994: Disputed between Azerbaijan and Armenia
  • 1994: Republic of Artsakh (de facto)

The Soviets ended fighting between Armenians and Azeris in Nagorno-Karabakh when they took over in the 1920s. To divide-and-rule, they made Nagorno-Karabakh a part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. By 1991 Nagorno-Karabakh was 25% Azeri and 75% Armenian. 

In 1988, Nagorno-Karabakh voted to join Armenia, then still a part of the Soviet Union. Both Azerbaijan and the Soviet Union rejected the move and when the latter collapsed in 1991 both Azerbaijan and separatists took arms. Armenia backed the rebels and a bloody war ensued. Both sides committed atrocities and over 40,000 died. In 1994 they called a ceasefire. Azerbaijani forces withdrew from Nagorno-Karabakh, leaving it under rebel control but officially Azerbaijani. Low-level conflict continued for the next 25 years.

https://emerging-europe.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bigstock-karabakh-79713565-990x556.jpg

On September 27th 2020 Azerbaijani dictator Ilham Aliyev launched a surprise rocket attack on Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia retaliated and immediately called the draft. President Erdogan of Turkey promised to aid Azerbaijan by whatever means necessary. For the past nine days, Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh exchanged rocket fire with Azerbaijan. Civilians have been the main victims and both sides have used cluster bombs, which international law prohibits.

Armenia is not without allies of its own. As a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), Russia is its greatest ally. Said nation has pushed for a peace settlement but has allegedly deployed mercenaries to Armenia’s aide. Russia does not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh however and therefore will likely only intervene if Armenia itself is attacked.

Turkey is already engaged in proxy conflicts with Russia in Syria and Libya and is pushing territorial claims against Greece and Cyprus. They have deployed Syrian Jihadi mercenaries to Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey shares an old rivalry with Russia and a bitter relationship with Armenia ever since the genocide of 1916. Kurdish militias in Iraq and Syria have also rallied to Armenia’s side. Israel supplies weapons to Azerbaijan, including high-tech ‘kamikaze drones’.

Iran is pulled by both sides. On one hand, Iran has 2 million Azeri citizens and Azerbaijan is a fellow Shia Muslim country while Armenia is Christian. On the other hand, Iran and Armenia have long been close while ally Russia backs Armenia and rivals Turkey and Israel back Azerbaijan. At worst, this conflict could spin out of control and put regional powers Turkey and Russia into direct confrontation. 

Nagorno-Karabakh dispute: Armenia, Azerbaijan standoff ...

No countries officially recognize Nagorno-Karabakh’s statehood except the fellow Caucasian disputed territories of Abkhazia, South Transnistria and North Ossetia. It shares close ties to Armenia and animosity with Azerbaijan.

Karabakh Armenians plead their right to self-determination. Azerbaijanis, meanwhile view Artsakh as an illegitimate rebel state who unlawfully displaced its Azeri inhabitants in the 1990s; as the international community sees Nagorno-Karabakh as an Azerbaijani province, they have every right to take it back. While this may be a repeat of the first Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, both sides now have stronger militaries and regional politics are far more fraught.

Sources: Ahval News, BBC, Lonely Planet, Mountainous Karabakh, The Nation, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

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Bears

Bears (scientific name Ursidae) are the largest land animals that eat meat. Mammals of the carniforma order, they live in Eurasia and the Americas. Despite their size and killing power, most bears are omnivores who forage more than they hunt. There are nine species of bear.

Bears evolved over 10 million years ago. Larger, older species like the North American short-faced bear and the European cave bear died out in the Ice Age. Their closest relatives are raccoons and dogs. 

Bear, Chauvet cave painting, ca. 30,000 - 28,000 BCE ...

Bears have shaggy coats, powerful jaws and sharp claws. Unable to run for long periods, they seldom chase their prey. Instead, bears rely on foraging or killing helpless animals like seal pups or salmon. They have no natural predators and do not fear humans. What they lack in eyesight and hearing, bears make up for in scent. They do not distinguish between night and day and sleep at odd hours. In wintertime, most bears hibernate, occasionally venturing from their dens when snowfall lapses. The polar bear is the only species who stay outside all year long.

Bears mate once every two years. Males court females in the mating season but leave when the cubs are born. Bears stay with their mothers until one year old.

The American black bear is the most widespread species. They are adaptable scavengers and tree climbers who remain widespread today. Regional varieties include the cinnamon bear and the so-called Spirit, or Kermode bear (pictured) of British Columbia, of whom one in every ten have white fur.

Man fights off grizzly bear after remembering his grandma ...

Grizzly bears are the American variety of the brown bear. Unlike their smaller cousins, they are too big to climb most trees and owe their size to a salmon-rich diet. Grizzlies can kill bulls with a single blow of their paws. The Kodiak bear, a subspecies found in Alaska, can reach up to 600 kilograms. It is the largest bear. 

Spectacled Bears Seen Near Machu Picchu

The spectacled bear is the only bear in South America. Reclusive by nature, they inhabit the Andes Mountains and owe their name to brown rings by their eyes. 

Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) scratching ...

The Eurasian brown bear once inhabited Europe, Asia and Morocco but now lives only in isolated forests and mountains. Humans hunted brown bears and taught them to dance at circuses. Though they are highly tamable and eager to please, bears hide their expressions, meaning angry outbursts take their captors by surprise. Wojtek, a Syrian Brown Bear, served in the Polish Army in WW2 and reached the rank of corporal.

Asiatic black bears or ‘moon bears’, so-called because of the mark on their chest, inhabit the Himalayas and the mountains of East Asia. They are far smaller than the American black bear and make expert tree climbers.

Sun Bears Can Mimic Facial Expressions The Same Way Humans ...

Sun Bears are the smallest species of bear. They live in the rainforests of Southeast Asia and subsist mainly from honey and insects.

Sloth bears live in India. Though small and slow, they have sharp claws and can be highly aggressive, particularly towards humans. In the English-speaking world, the most famous Sloth Bear is Baloo from the Jungle Book. 

Giant Panda Animal Facts And Pictures | All Wildlife ...

Giant pandas are a small and highly specialized population native to a remote part of China. Unlike other bears, they are entirely herbivorous and eat only bamboo. Biologists considered them bears until the 1950s when they determined they part of the raccoon family. Recent scholarship has reclassified them as bears.

What Colour Is A Polar Bear's Fur? - YouTube

Polar bears are the only entirely carnivorous bears. Living on the Arctic Circle, they are the most accomplished swimmers in the bear family and hunt mainly seals and walrus pups. They are the largest carnivorous mammals. Due to lack of historical exposure, polar bears do not fear humans and are the only bears who will actively hunt them. Other bears attack humans only out of fear or desperation. 

Due to their power and unique appearance, bears feature heavily in human folklore. The indigenous peoples of northern Eurasia, from the Ainu of Japan to the Sami of Scandinavia viewed them as sacred, as did many Native American and First Nation peoples. The ancient Greeks believed the constellations Ursa Major and Minor were nymphs transformed into bears. As it exists in both Eurasia and North America, the associations of bears with the ‘cosmic hunt’ is likely over 13,000 years old.

Sources: New Illustrated Animal Kingdom Volume 4, World Wildlife Fund

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