The Yeti used to be just a typical creature of little interest to me until a few years ago when my sister, aunt and I started a tradition of searching out a certain Yeti every year at the BEWI Ski & Snowboard Expo in Boston. There, a large blowup Utah Yeti was the icon in some family photographs. We were disappointed this year, having looked everywhere for it only to discover the company did not have a table at the expo this year. Instead, I pursue the history of the mythical creature, and share my findings with you. Enjoy!
WHAT IS IT
It’s not Bigfoot, although they’re both humanoid creatures. The main difference is where they live: Bigfoot is native to Canada and the United States, while the Yeti dwells in the Himalayas. Strange, how different cultures have similar myths. The Yeti, also referred to as the “Abominable Snowman,” is a large bipedal creature with white hair, all the better to blend in with the snow and scare the bejesus out of you!
According to H. Siiger in Himalayan Anthropology: The Indo-Tibetan Interface, edited by James F. Fisher, the history of the Yeti is possibly a religious one. Before the 19th century, the Lepcha people of the region worshiped the Yeti, or a “Glacier Being,” as a God of the Hunt. They had religious practices that involved using parts of the being in rituals. For example, they mixed what they thought was the blood of this creature with poison and mustard.
If you want more details, read this Google excerpt. The story of the Yeti thus got passed down through the generations and became a part of the Himalayan culture.
Since it’s the Holiday Season, I’m going to first reference a classic: Rankin/ Bass’s “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” Who can forget Bumble, the Abominable Snowman who almost ate Rudolph’s girlfriend? Amazingly, his whole personality changed when he became a vegetarian by necessity due to no longer having any teeth. And he got to put the star on the Christmas tree!
One of my favorite Yetis is the one from “Monsters, Inc.” He was a nice guy from the start: welcoming Mike and Sulley to the Himalayas, offering them snow cones, and helping them get back to Monsters, Inc.
A less friendly, albeit fake, Yeti showed its frozen face in the movie “Chill Out, Scooby Doo” (2007), in which Shaggy and Scooby are used as bait for a French trapper trying to catch the abominable beast in the Himalayas. The ghost of a Yeti appears in the episode of “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?: That’s Snow Ghost.” (1970). The gang think they’re on a skiing vacation until the ghost appears. They find out some weird guy saw a Yeti die and now the Yeti’s following him. Look at how much cooler the Yeti looks after 37 years of technological enhancements!
One last Yeti worthy of note stars in one of R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps book series. Now, this abominable is out of his natural habitat and shows up across the ocean in Pasadena, Alaska instead of the Himalayas. But this is a fictional children’s book, so we will overlook this minuscule fact. This guy still has the large size and the white fur. That’s Yeti enough for this girl.
The Yeti from the book is a character in the new “Goosebumps” movie, which has even better effects than the Scooby Doo movies; it looks like it’s really chasing you!
Well, you could use “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?: That’s Snow Ghost” for inspiration and imagine going on a skiing trip to the Himalayas. Is Yeti a man-eater or a vegetarian? Would you need to save people from it or, say, save it from people destroying its habitat or invading its privacy? What would you do if you encountered it?
Or you could take a whole new point of view and write using the voice of the snowbeast. How does it feel, having everyone afraid of it? Does it miss its Bigfoot cousins? Have fun!