The Patagones or Patagonian giants were a race of people, who first began to appear in early European accounts of the then little-known region and coastline of Patagonia.
They were supposed to have exceeded at least double normal human height, some accounts giving heights of 12 to 15 feet 3.
Tales of these people would take a hold over European concepts of the region for some years.
First mention of these people came from the voyage of Ferdinand Magellan and his crew, who claimed to have seen them while exploring the coastline of South America en route to the Maluku Islands in their circumnavigation of the world in the s. Antonio Pigafettaone of the expedition's few survivors and the chronicler of Magellan's expedition, wrote in his account about their encounter with natives twice a normal person's height:.
One day we suddenly saw a naked man of giant stature on the shore of the port, dancing, singing, and throwing dust on his head. Having done that, the man led the giant to an islet where the captain-general was waiting.
When the giant was in the captain-general's and our presence he marveled greatly, and made signs with one finger raised upward, believing that we had come from the sky.
He was so tall that we reached only to his waist, and he was well proportioned Since Pigafetta's time the assumption that this derived from pata or foot took hold, and "Patagonia" was interpreted to mean "Land of the Bigfeet". However, this etymology remains questionable, since amongst other things the meaning of the suffix -gon is unclear.
It is now understood that the etymology refers to a literary character in a Spanish novel of the early 16th century. Early maps of the New World afterwards would sometimes attach the label regio gigantum "region of giants" to the area.
InFrancis Drake 's ship chaplain, Francis Fletcherwrote about meeting very tall Patagonians. In the s, Anthony Knivet claimed he had seen dead bodies 12 feet 3.
Also in the s, William Adamsan Englishman aboard a Dutch ship rounding Tierra del Fuegoreported a violent encounter between his ship's crew and unnaturally tall natives. Ina rumour leaked out upon their return to the United Kingdom that the crew of HMS Dolphincaptained by Commodore John Byronhad seen a tribe of 9-foot-tall 2.
The people encountered by Byron were in all likelihood the Tehuelchesindigenous to the region. Later writers consider the Patagonian giants to have been a hoaxor at least an exaggeration and mis-telling of earlier European accounts of the region.
These accounts may also refer to the Selk'nam people. A photo of a seven foot tall Selk'nam "Ona" man can be found in the Library of Congress.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Mythological giants from Patagonia.