The Flores “Hobbit,” Homo floresiensis
Coleman and Huyghe do not specifically discuss Celtic fairies or Ireland’s “little people.” Describing their classification and terminology in their Introduction, they contented themselves with noting that “the term ‘Little People’ is too closely related to one type of folklore entity,” whose ethnic associations they do not otherwise specify (p. 13). In their geographical section on European mystery hominids, they discussed reported European True Giants, Neandertaloids, Erectus Hominids, and Merbeings, but no Proto-Pygmies. Harry Trumbore’s range map for the geographical distribution of Proto-Pygmies on p. 30, it is true, did show most of Europe, including part of their “Ancient Range”–but left Europe out of their Present Range, which includes Africa south of the Sahara, India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Oceania, northern Australia, and parts of North, Central, and South America–and Coleman & Huyghe’s accompanying text (pp. 29-31) did not mention a former European distribution.
However, I believe that European “fairy,” “gnome,” and “dwarf” legends, from Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs and the German *kobolds* to Scottish “brownies” and Irish “leprechauns,” do at least suggest a Proto-Pygmy population in parts of Europe well into historic times. Researching the background for my 2006 Red Hat Society St. Patrick’s Day luncheon talk, I came across quite a lot of material reminiscent of Coleman and Huyghe’s *The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates*! Irish “Little People” traditions, I found, describe several types of what Coleman and Huyghe might call Proto-Pygmies. Besides the Leprechauns themselves, Irish folklore also describes the *fear dearg* or “Red Man,” the hard-drinking Cluricaun, and the hairy reddish *grogoch*, the last being almost an Irish *ebu gogo* or *orang pendek*!
The Leprechaun, as we all know, is typically represented as a little old man 2 or 3 feet tall, dressed either in all bright red or all bright green clothing, who makes shoes for the other fairies and guards a pot of gold. Whether red or green, his clothing is generally an old-fashioned version of European dress, recalling mediaeval or Victorian costume. Red was apparently the most common original traditional Leprechaun costume color, but green became more fashionable in the 20th century with the modern Irish patriotic “wearing of the green,” and is now universal in American St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun imagery. The *fear dearg* or Man in Red is a Leprechaun-like dwarf dressed all in bright red who loves to play nasty practical jokes, but also helps humans trapped in Fairyland to escape. The Cluricaun is a red-nosed Leprechaun-like dwarf who sneaks into people’s houses at night to drink all their wine and eat all their food while also racing and harnessing their dogs, cats, pigs, or goats at night–some folklorists think he’s just a Leprechaun on a spree! The *grogoch*, finally, is a hairy naked red dwarf 3 feet tall, unclothed but covered with reddish hair, who lives in caves or hollow trees, but can be persuaded to come indoors and perform Irish farmers’ household chores. The description of the *grogoch* reminds me quite a lot of the Flores Island *ebu gogo*, and sometimes makes me wonder if *Homo floresiensis* made it all the way from Indonesia to Ireland in prehistoric times!