THE CHINESE GIANT CHANG, AND DWARF CHE MAH, AT THE LONDON AQUARIUM

 


 

DWARFS & GIANTS

 

The Royal Aquarium at London has had on exhibition for some time a dwarf and a giant, both natives of China, and both remarkable as regards their stature.  The giant, who is named Chang, a native of Peking, is especially extraordinary, being eight feet in height.  Such a stature is almost unique among the large men whose size has been recorded in scientific works.  The dwarf, Che-mah, is only three feet in height - quite a rare stature even in the world of dwarfs.

 

These two individuals are represented in the accompanying engraving copied from a photograph, and which we take from La Nature.  The giant is a very intelligent man, and speaks fluently several languages - English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese.  A man who is thus capable of speaking different languages is evidently not an imbecile; but in this, Chang offers a marked contrast to those of his kind; since. according to Isidore Geoffrey Saint Hibare, giants are most usually indolent, apathetic, and wanting in intelligence.  For instance, the Norwegian giant Henry Brustad, who also is at London, is very indolent, has a stupid appearance, and says nothing; and his pointed skull looks as if it were deformed.  Brustad is nearly eight feet in height, is possessed of great muscular strength, and is thirty five years old.  Chang is two years younger.  The presence at London of these three so extraordinary individuals given us so much the better occasion to refer to the rules observed as to the development of dwarfs and giants which Prof. Taruffi has just published at Milan, in his two memoirs on the anomalies of stature.  Prof. Taruffi's work supplies a want of teratological science, since, although observations on giants and dwarfs are not rare, there have been few of them that were well made, and in which have been noted the length of the different parts of the body in order to ascertain which are the ones that contribute most to increase of diminish the stature of these exceptional beings.  The author, from careful measurements, concludes that, as far as giants are concerned, the femur contributes especially to the elongation of their body; but , on the contrary, their vertebral column is short in proportion to their enormous height.

 

The humerus is notably elongated, but less so than the femur.  Their feet and hands increase proportionally with their height.  In general terms it might be said that the longer the bones in the normal individual, the more elongated they are in giants.  The skull of giants is ordinarily small with respect to their height; but it is enormous in absolute measurement, although the intelligence is generally not well developed.  For example, we may mention the giant "Joachim" (6-9 feet in height) observed by M. Broca.

 

This Hercules, who was a perfect realization of the saying, "big, strong, and brutish,"  made his living by exhibiting himself - asocial function which he still exercises in death since he is exhibited in the museum of the Anthropological Society (now known as the Broca Museum).  This man was so stupid that his friends said of him that he had just enough wits to gain his livelihood - which however, was not difficult.  This immense imbecile had a colossal skull measuring 1,950 cubic centimeters, and his brain weighed 1,735 grammas, or almost as much as that of Cuvier!  This fact shown plainly that intelligence is not the only factor of brain weight, but that stature and weight have a great influence on this result.  The observations collected together by Prof Taruffi relative to dwarfs are too few to be conclusive.  It must be admitted, however, that the femur - the bone which is most elongated in giants, is also the one which in dwarfs  decreases the most in proportion to the stature.  The shinbone decrease much less in them, and it is often as long as the thigh bone.  The head of the dwarf does not diminish generally proportionally with the height; at least such is the case when the dwarf is nether idiotic nor microcephalous.  Thus we see that it is the lower limb which especially contributes to cause the tallness of giants and the smallness of dwarfs.  The upper limb is susceptible of slightly less variations.  The vertebral column and the skull are the least subject to vary with the height.  It has been remarked that dwarfs are usually active, nervous, and at times choleric .  A type, as regards this, was the famous Jeffrey Hudson, the favorite of Henrietta, Queen of England, and who had the honor of being painted by Van Dyck on the same canvas with his queen, and of being sung by the poet Davenant in his "Jeffriad." wherein is celebrated a victory obtained by the dwarf over a turkey cock.  Hudson was so small that he was served up at table in a pie, and he was so passionate that he once challenged to a duel a person named Crafs, who had made sport of him.  Crafs came to the spot armed with a syringe only.  The hero of the "Jeffriad." more and more furious, demanded a duel with pistols, in which he mortally wounded his adversary.  He was then twenty five years of age, and his height was only sixteen inches, although at the age of thirty he had grown somewhat and was three feet nine inches.  Several other dwarfs, such as the Polish Borwilaski (three and a quarter feet), have shown themselves courageous and intelligent.  On the contrary, we know that Babe the dwarf of King Stanislas Leczinki, was very stupid.  It was never possible to teach him anything but to dance and beat time.  His height at sixteen years of age was two and half feet.  His character, which  up to this time had been gay and frolicsome, then changed and his height increased till it reached about three feet.  He died at the age of twenty-two.  He was engaged to a female dwarf, who more fortunate than he, reached an advanced age.  Unfortunately, the idea of measuring the limbs of these dwarfs never occurred to those who described them.

 

Quetelet was the first to carefully measure the celebrated Tom Thumb - a dwarf whose reputation has not been forgotten, and who is only two and three quarter feet in height.

 

The few anthropometric measurements that have been made of dwarfs gives a greater value to Prof. Taruffi's Memoire.

 

Unfortunately, his observations are comparatively few and relate to dwarfs whose stature was relatively large.  His conclusions, then, cannot be regarded as absolutely definite.

 

Scientific American Supplement November 20 1880

 


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