Thursday, April 13, 2006

The First Formosan in Europe....

Kerim at Keywords turned me on to this great post at Savage Minds about the First Formosan in Europe -- a European fraudster....

Sometimes I stumble upon a link that forces me to drop all of my work and
shift my focus entirely. Such was the case when after lunch I learned of
George Psalmanazar, "the first Formosan to visit Europe."

"In 1704, Psalmanazar published a book An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island subject to the Emperor of Japan which revealed a number of strange habits. Formosa was a prosperous country of wealth with capital city called Xternetsa. Men walked naked except for a gold or silver plate to cover their privates. Their main food was a serpent that they hunt with branches. Formosans were polygamous and the husband had a right to eat their wives for infidelity. They executed murderers by hanging them upside down and shooting them full of arrows. Annually they sacrificed the hearts of 18,000 young boys to gods and priest ate the bodies. They also used horses and camels for mass transportation. The book also
described the Formosan alphabet. Of course, it was all a hoax."

In fact, I came across it via this Ishbaddidle post linking to the 10 Greatest Impostors in History.

Interesting stuff!


Anonymous said...

Funny how he was so accurate about the polygamy part.


Anonymous said...

I can't imagine what that article says about Formosans is anywhere close to "acturate."

Taiwan population is around 23,000,000 now. 1704 was 300 years ago, probably not many people around at that time. I can't imagine how they can kill as many as 18,000 boys each year without going to distinction in decades.

Besides, the survival rate of kids in every family was very low before the modern medicine was widely applied. Taking my family as an example, my grandparent had given birth to 15 kids, yet half of them died before 1 year old. If 50% survival rate was a common condition several decades ago, it's reasonable to suggest that the survival rate probably was even much lower 300 years ago.

Smaller population, low survival rate, yet sacrifice 18000 kids per year ? It's not very convincing ...