Pixabay / Bernell

Everybody loves a good urban legend, but what if the legend of the Yeti wasn’t a myth at all?

Quick Notes:

  • The Bhutan version of the Yeti is more like the Abominable Snowman

  • Cultures across the world entire have their own variations

  • It’s still an unconfirmed myth

The mysterious existence of the Yeti has come in many forms and even more tales. The folkloric creature is said to have an ape-like appearance standing significantly taller than the average human and can evade detection by hiding out in the mountains.

The legend pops up in cultures all across the world, and it is widely believed that each culture spun their own version themselves, without hearing of the others that existed around the world through travel or hearsay. While over 25 percent of Americans believe in the existence of the Yeti, Bhutan may have them beat.

What is the Bhutan Yeti?

Tucked away deep in the Gangtey Monastery is a century-old corpse of what many Bhutan people and tourists believe is a michum—a smaller cousin of the famed Abominable Snowman (also known as the migoi in Bhutan). It’s both ape and human and has been a massive draw for visitors to the monastery over the years.

 Anaterate / Pixabay

The corpse is thought to be under a curse, so much so that visitors are no longer allowed to visit the long-dead creature in its forever home. The legend of the Yeti in Bhutan describes the beast as being “double the size of a yak and has a hollow point in its back that it can use to carry humans away.” The existence of a corpse in a monastery makes Bhutan’s version a little more realistic than others across the world.

 All Bhutanese don’t think it’s a mythological creature

The belief in the Yeti in Bhutan has sparked some pretty interesting folklore superstitions. It’s so widespread that the country even has its own conservation area to protect the habitat of the giant, scary humanoids. Although hard evidence hasn’t been found, that hasn’t stopped the citizens of the country to fear it, even going so far as to have safety precautions in place.

In the case of a run-in with a Yeti, people are told to run uphill or downhill, depending on whether it’s male or female. The royal house of Bhutan even sends out regular search parties to try to find the elusive creature. Bhutanese people respect the Yeti and, thus, keep their cultural beliefs out of the commercial industry.

Different cultures have different versions

The Bhutanese aren’t the only ones in the world who truly believe the Yeti exists. About a quarter of Americans believe their own version, Bigfoot, is real, and 21 percent of Canadians believe they have their very own Yeti called a Sasquatch. It’s a widespread phenomenon for something that has never been truly proven.

Pop culture has taken the myth and ran with it, too. The American show Finding Bigfoot was aired on the Animal Planet network for nine seasons, and Expedition Unknown dedicated an entire mini-series to hunting for the Yeti.

Could they be real?

Considering every culture has their own version, and it’s so similar to those across the globe, it’s safe to assume that the myth of the creature had to have originated from a real-life experience somewhere down the line. Some theories suggest that they are, in fact, real. Other’s say the mind created the whole thing.

“The idea of a wild, man-like ‘other’ creature co-existing with us but just beyond our understanding is heavily rooted in mythology.”

The creation of the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and other variations of the humanoid-like creature could stem from human’s desire to connect with nature. As the world modernized, that connection to Mother Earth was slowly lost over time, so it could all just be one big metaphor for our need to coexist with the planet on a more spiritual level.

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101: