Folklore of Bhutan – Migoi, the Yeti

In 2001, the Bhutanese Government created the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary, a 253 square-mile protected habitat for the Migoi. The sanctuary is also home to pandas, snow leopards, and tigers but the Bhutanese maintain that the refuge was created specifically for the Migoi.

“Yeti Stamp” from Folklore of Bhutan Souvenirs.

Migoi is the Tibetan word for “wild man” or more common to Western culture, the Yeti. The Yeti, often called the Abominal Snowman in the west and referred to as the Migoi by the Bhutanese, is a bipedal ape like creature that is said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan. The Migoi is known for its phenomenal strength and magical powers, such as the ability to become invisible and to walk backwards to fool any trackers.

Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in the eastern part of Bhutan is an entire national park dedicated to the protection of the yeti’s habitat. There is no scientific proof confirming the presence of this mythical creature, but folklores and urban legends about the yeti in local Bhutanese culture still exist and many people insist that there have been sightings of Migoi in the Sakteng region.

Stories of the Yeti reached the Western world as early as the 19th century, with reports of sightings of the beast or strange footprints. The frequency of reports increased in the 20th century when Westerners began making determined attempts to scale the many mountains in the Himalayan region. In 1953, Sir Edmund Hilary reported seeing very large and strange footprints in the snow on his way up Mount Everest. In 1970, British mountaineer Don Whillans claimed to have witnessed a creature when scaling Annapurna, stating he viewed an ape-like create for 20 minutes as it apparently searched for food not far from his camp.

The scientific community generally regards the yeti as a legend due to the lack of existing conclusive evidence that it exists and the often misidentification of Himalayan wildlife for the Tibetan Blue Bear or the Himalayan Brown Bear.

To read more about the folklore of Bhutan, I suggest this fantastic compilation by Nawang P. Phuntsho at Folktales for all (also found at the Writers Association of Bhutan), how to escape a Yeti attack by Marie Javins, and Bhutanese Tales of the Yeti by Kunzang Choden

Folklore of Bhutan – Migoi, the Yeti

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