“In the autumn of 1959, I was following, at night, the edge of the Belokany-chai River. I was carrying a bag of rice which I had “deducted” lower down, at the old mill. That would have been twenty-odd kilos [45 lb]. Obviously, I did not wish to meet anybody. As if deliberately, the moon was shining with all its clarity. Also, I was taking, not the main road, but the back streets of the village, along the river. Suddenly, I heard a noisy splashing. At first I believed it was the wind carrying the noise of the waves of the rapids, but there was no wind and then, the rapids were quite small. The splashing was repeating itself regularly, as if someone was emptying a whole bucket in one go. I told myself: "This must be the neighbour opposite, who is bathing; the devil take him. How am I going to pass?"
I was cautiously approaching the river and threw a glance from behind a rock. I perceived, by the moonlight, someone very tall in the water. She was standing upright and throwing enormous globs of water with both hands. “That's funny,” I thought. “The neighbour isn't so tall.” At that moment, I noticed long hair on its head. “Bah, that's better; it's not the neighbour, it's his wife! Well,” I said to myself, “I'm going to go and see her bathe.”
I put down my bag and approached with the step of a wolf. I arrived at the bank, but justly, there were bushes which thwarted me; I could not see well. It was necessary to retrace my steps. She was behind a block of stone. I lay down on my belly, crawled towards the rock, and raised my head gently, exactly at the level of the water, just to the side of her ... And at once almost dropped dead. Standing upright in the water was an abominable woman. It wasn't just the face she had, but the frightening maw. Enormous, long hands. She was filling her palms with water and throwing it over her shoulders. Word of honour, it was half a bucket she was collecting each time. Then, she grabbed her breasts and began to throw they on the water. Now, her breasts were very long, enormous, and they splashed dully on the water. Then, she began again to slosh herself.
My hair was standing on end. I slowly crawled back, then I jumped to my feet, and ran across the road to the neighbour, the same one I believed his wife or he was bathing. For a long time I knocked at his door. Finally, he came out. I said to him: “Get your rifle, and let's run quick; there's a kaptar bathing, come and see.” [Kaptar is the Azeri name for the almasty.] At first, he hesitated; finally, we left. When we had arrived, there was no-one about.
The neighbour helped me to transport the rice and, obviously, it was necessary to share it with him.”
Account of Omarov Ramazan, 37, Lakh, director of the veterinarian and zootechnical station of the Tliarata district, Republic of Daghestan.
“On the 20 August 1959, I was returning across the mountain to Antzug. It was close to 6 o'clock in the evening. The visibility was very good. I was descending a small valley where trees were rare.
When I reached the big white stone . . . I noticed an animal moving around below. I thought it was a bear, and hid behind a bush. I had no weapon on me. I had only my bridle and the bag in which I transport the vaccination equipment. Hidden behind the bush, I began to make observations. The animal, which originally appeared to have been sitting, suddenly stood up and headed in my direction on two legs. It was a creature which resembled both a man and an ape at the same time. From my childhood, I had heard accounts of the kaptars, but I didn't believe in them. Well, this was what I was now seeing with my own eyes.
Its body hair was long and black, like a goat's. The neck was essentially nonexistent; the head rested directly on the shoulders. Long hair hung down from the head. The kaptar was coming closer. It was heading, not so much towards me, but to the side. It was a male. The head was long, pointing upwards, conical, ovoid in shape. The long arms hung almost to the knees. He was walking along, and they were tossing around, as if articulated with screws; they gave the impression of being mounted on the joints, like a child's toy.
About 200 yards from me, this strange creature crossed the path and sat down again. It rested sitting down for two or three minutes, the hands touching the ground. It made one think of a sportsman who was doing physical exercises. Then, he got up again, and headed towards a shrub on the other side of the crest, and disappeared. I did not see it again. I abandoned my bush and quietly returned home.
What struck me again? It climbed the slope very fast, making strides of a metre or even more. A man could not climb a steep slope making such big strides.
I think of a chimpanzee which I have seen at the zoo in Tbilisi. The hair of the chimpanzee is shorter, the head rounder. The arms and legs are also shorter. It must be said, it is true, that its height is also shorter. The kaptar did not measure less than 1.80 m [5 ft 11 in] and it resembled a man more than an ape. It walked upright, its head just inclined a little more forward on its shoulders. No tail. Another typical thing: in the wolf or bear, one always sees the ears, even though they are short, whereas in this case, the head hair covered the ears, and they were not visible. Obviously, I was scared. But, my curiosity was still stronger than my fear. I have lived 37 years and I used to think that the kaptar was the invention of superstitious people. Well, that has been proved false; I saw it myself.”
Account of Efendiev Mustapha Abdul, 61, Lesge, schoolmaster, Makhachkala, in the Republic of Daghestan.
“My neighbour, an old shepherd with 90 years of experiences, Musa Idrissov, had this adventure: in the autumn of 1955, the shepherds of the village of Knor were driving their flocks of sheep, as they did every year, to the winter pastures by passing over the mountains into Azerbaijan. They had to cross the Saryzh forest and halt for the night. The shepherds slaughtered a goat, lit a wood fire and began to prepare supper. Towards midnight, when they were settling down to eat, they heard noisy breathing ... and noticed a creature of human appearance, covered with black hair. Its appearance had not been provoked by jostling among the sheep... the shepherds took fright. 'It's an alnab,' said Musa. 'It is probably hungry, and wants us to give it something to eat.' Taking some bread, and a morsel of grilled meat, he threw them at the alnab. The latter hurled itself greedily onto the food, and quickly devoured it. Then, after having remained on the spot a certain moment, it backed up and disappeared. In the darkness, its eyes shone like a cat's.
Fearing an attack by this being which the shepherds, the Lesges, knew poorly or not at all, they climbed into the trees, rifles in their hands. Effectively, at the end of about an hour and a half, the alnab reappeared and attempted to possess itself of the meat. At that moment, Musa fired. They heard a horrible howling. The alnab let go of the meat and turned to the side of the detonation. Then, it was the turn of Daud to fire. The alnab made haste to disappear, limping.
At dawn, the shepherds noticed traces of blood on the grass. Musa and Daud took to the trail; the third shepherd remained with the sheep. The trail led Musa and Daud to Pchar. There, on the river bank, they found the bloody corpse of the alnab. One bullet had hit it in the leg, the other had pierced its chest.
It was 2 metres [6ft 7 in] tall. Its head was shaped like an egg. The nose was like sunken into the face. A very massive chin. Long tangled hair hung from its head. From its body issued an strong, very repulsive odour.
The shepherds told themselves that nobody would believe them, and that it would be necessary to take away some evidence. They sliced off the ears and a handful of hair from the head; and from the right hand, the thumb and index finger.
When Musa and Daud regained their camp, the newly arrived shepherds were already waiting for them. As they had foreseen, the latter did not believe them. They were not even convinced by their physical evidence. Then, Musa and Daud led them to the river where the corpse lay.
Three months later, Musa returned to the village and started to build himself a house. He buried the ears, hair, and fingers of the alnab under the foundation as a talisman title preserving the alnabs.
This is the moment when he will show them to me.”
Account of Lobtanidze B.F., Georgian, engineer at Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia. Letter addressed to the Museum of Anthropologie at the University of Moscow, 16 December 1960.
“After having read in Tbilisi Evening your article, 'Is there a snowman in the Transcaucasus', I have decided to write to you in order to recount an episode that I experienced some years ago.
It was in the summer of 1946. We were with my brother, R.I. Metreveli, now assistant of the Academy of Arts in Georgia, in the village of Orjonikidze in the district of Lagodekhi. One day we undertook to go haying, three or four kilometres from the village, in the tobacco plantations. A little boy from our family, A.F. Lobtanidze, accompanied us.
We were just preparing to go back, when the child cried out: 'Look, look, someone is observing us from the tree.' We fixed our gaze attentively on the tree and discovered a man who, shielding his eyes with his hand, was looking in our direction. However, he did not seem to have discovered us and we remained quiet, and decided to observe him. Soon, nevertheless, we changed our intention. Indeed, this creature began to leap from one branch to the other, up and down, down and up, and this with such speed that we decided it was an ape. Feeling more confident, we approached to some 25 to 30 yards, but there, we were seized by genuine fear.
It was something frightening. Neither man nor ape. It resembled rather a man of enormous height, with long hair covering the whole of its body. Finally, it hung from a branch with its hands, and leaped onto the ground from a height for about 4 metres [13 feet] and disappeared into the bushes.
Some minutes later, we heard footsteps and the sound of conversation, and three men from the neighbouring village made their appearance on the road. Well, the tree where this creature had been was quite close to the road.
I swear we were all very scared. Returning to the village, we recounted our adventure. Certain people laughed, others shared our sentiments.
At this point, the editor appears to have left out a section of Koffmann's article by mistake, because the text continues, without any break, with the questioning of someone called Kapanadze, not previously mentioned. I have translated it for the sake of completeness.
“Because he was sleeping. It was I who woke up. As long as the wild man was coming down and drinking, I did not dare move. When it started to get up, I hastily jostled Apakidze and said to him: 'Look quickly, what is that – a bear or what?' The old man whispered: 'Be quiet, be quiet, I know what it is.'
He could not tell you everything, as he had seen it only from the moment the wild man got up.”
Do you believe that the wild man saw you?
I think so. It would not have been able to not see us. Firstly, it was coming down facing our cabin, and me. Secondly, the wood fire was burning, since he was preparing breakfast. It could not have missed seeing the fire. Also, when it had drunk and stood up again, before commencing to go back up, it turned its head towards us, glanced at us over its shoulder, and went away.
We went at once to look at its footprints. You could see them well, because the soil was damp. The imprints were human-like, but the toes were longer and so were the nails. At places, climbing here or there, they had scratched the soil.
It did not resemble the imprint of a bear at all. It was a human imprint, but larger. The heel was wider than a man's and, at the base of the toes, the sole of the foot was very much wider.”
These illustrations, unrelated to any specific account, are taken from photocopies. I apologize for the poor quality.
Figure 1. Imprint of a foot whose provenance is the Ala Tau mountains of Soviet Asia: a size 42 shoe came up to the level of the little toe. (Note: Ala Tau is the name of a number of ranges in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyrstan, and Uzbekistan. This is a long way from the Caucasus, and a reminder that similar creatures have been reported all across central Asia. Note also that French size 42 = size 8½ British and size 10 U.S.)
Figure 2. Imprint of an almasty foot (the track amounted to a score) removed entire after consolidation of the soil. Valley of the Malka. March 1978.
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