Image of the Week: Habit of the Patagonians

This week’s image shows how the myth of “sasquatch-like” habitants in the Patagonia region continued to live on during the 18th century in texts like The Habit of the Patagonians. This legend first sprung from Ferdinand Magellan’s accounts of his travels along the coast of South America. It is said that while on his quest to circumnavigate the globe, Magellan saw what appeared to be a giant along the shoreline. The captain sent a few men ashore to inspect this creature and take accounts of his build. After this first encounter, the legend of the Patagonians grew larger and larger with each retelling of their story. These supposed descriptions of the Patagonian’s state them to be at least 12–15 feet tall and broad in stature with incredibly large feet. Other reports considered them to be 7-10 feet. tall. In reality, the native people of the Patagonian region were at most slightly taller than those of other regions. This image from 1764 shows the imagined size of the Patagonian juxtaposed next to a sailor.

Gray, Patrick. Peoples of the Americas. Tarrytown: Marshall Cavendish Corperation, 1999. Print.

“Patagonian Giants.” Princeton University Library. Princeton. Web. 05 Mar. 2012. <>.


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