CONGRESS OF THE ODD
THE SACRED FAMILY OF BURMA
In 1826 an expedition led by John Crawfurd visited the court of Ava, a province in Burma. In his published account of the visit, Crawfurd described meeting a wolf man named Shew-Maong. The account was the first documented encounter with hypertrichosis since Petrus Gonzales.
At the age of five, Shwe-Maong was given to the King of Ava as a gift. He took to the role of court jester and entertained the King so completely that the sovereign presented Shwe-Maong with a beautiful wife at the age of 22. Crawfurd wrote that the union produced 4 children. A daughter, named Maphoon, was covered with hair like her father.
In 1855, a second expedition to Ava updated the tale. Captain Henry Yule wrote that Shwe-Maong had been murdered by thieves. His daughter Maphoon, now thirty-one, was married to an average Burmese man. Her marriage was not a simple affair as the King was forced to offer a large dowry to any man who would wed her. The union resulted in two sons and one, Moung-Phoset, was as furry as his mother and grandfather.
In 1885 the Third Burmese War began. During this revolution the palace at Ava was burned and its inhabitants murdered. The hairy family of Burma managed to escape into the forest. By this time Moung-Phoset had several of his own children. He had one daughter named Mah-Me, who was also hairy, but she died either shortly before or during the escape. Maphoon was still alive but blind and invalid, thus Moung-Phoset carried her on his back to safety.
One year later the family began to exhibit themselves for profit. In the summer of 1886 the family was visited by one Mr. J. J. Weir in England and he described them in detail. He reported that Maphoon, while weak and blind, was both lively and pleasant. He also stated that not only was Moung-Phoset covered with soft, brown hair but he was also heavily tattooed from below the waist and to the knees. Weir was astounded by the level of education displayed by the family. He remarked that their appearance did not do justice to their intellect.
From England, the family moved on to Paris. In 1888 they appeared in the United States with P.T. Barnum. They were billed as ‘The Sacred Hairy Family of Burma’. But following that stint in the United States, the family disappeared. Unbelievably, their remaining history is unknown.
image: Moung-Phoset and Maphoon during their time in the United States, taken by Charles Eisenmann.
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J Tithonus Pednaud has dedicated this site to highlighting the remarkable lives of those born exceedingly different. These so-called freaks and human oddities stand as uplifting testaments to human spirit and serve as inspiring examples of human tenacity.