Cynocephalus

Cynocephalus, dog-headed men, wolfmen, werewolves, etc., were not possibilities I had ever considered as reality until I captured my first photo of a spirit man with the snout/muzzle of a dog.

(See Werewolf Photo Gallery for the other dogmen spirit photos).
 

The theme of dogmen has continued throughout my spiritual quest. Aside from the photos they have appeared in, I have dreamed of them, scryed them, had "visions" of them, and found them fitting into the ever unfolding picture that was emerging for me of early civilizations. Eventually I came upon a description and definition that fit my dogmen -- cynocephalus, cyno meaning "dog" and cephalus meaning "headed".Cynocephali are generally considered myths or allegories these days, but I believe they are literal. They are cited in numerous ancient Greek texts by authors such as Herodotus, Pliny, Photius, and Aelian as having existed as tribes in ancient India and Africa.

Writings from Ctesias (a Greek physician 400 BC) via Photius describe a tribe of dog-headed people from India as follows:

"They speak no language, but bark like dogs, and in this manner make themselves understood by each other. Their teeth are larger than those of dogs, their nails like those of these animals, but longer and rounder. They inhabit the mountains as far as the river Indus. Their complexion is swarthy. They are extremely just, like the rest of the Indians with whom they associate. They understand the Indian language but are unable to converse, only barking or making signs with their hands and fingers by way of reply... They live on raw meat. They number about 120,000.

"The Cynocephali living on the mountains do not practice any trade but live by hunting. When they have killed an animal they roast it in the sun. They also rear numbers of sheep, goats, and asses, drinking the milk of the sheep and whey made from it. They eat the fruit of the Siptakhora, whence amber is procured, since it is sweet. They also dry it and keep it in baskets, as the Greeks keep their dried grapes. They make rafts which they load with this fruit together with well-cleaned purple flowers and 260 talents of amber, with the same quantity of the purple dye, and thousand additional talents of amber, which they send annually to the king of India. "They exchange the rest for bread, flour, and cotton stuffs with the Indians, from whom they also buy swords for hunting wild beasts, bows, and arrows, being very skillful in drawing the bow and hurling the spear. They cannot be defeated in war, since they inhabit lofty and inaccessible mountains. Every five years the king sends them a present of 300,000 bows, as many spears, 120,000 shields, and 50,000 swords.

"They do not live in houses, but in caves. They set out for the chase with bows and spears, and as they are very swift of foot, they pursue and soon overtake their quarry. The women have a bath once a month, the men do not have a bath at all, but only wash their hands. They anoint themselves three times a month with oil made from milk and wipe themselves with skins. The clothes of men and women alike are not skins with the hair on, but skins tanned and very fine. The richest wear linen clothes, but they are few in number. They have no beds, but sleep on leaves or grass. He who possesses the greatest number of sheep is considered the richest, and so in regard to their other possessions. All, both men and women, have tails above their hips, like dogs, but longer and more hairy.

"They are just, and live longer than any other men, 170, sometimes 200 years."

Dog-headed men were reported by explorers such as Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus. There were even saints that were dog-headed, the most notable being St. Christopher, who was purportedly captured in a campaign against the Marmaritae in North Africa and forced to serve in a Roman military unit, inevitably converting to Christianity and becoming a saint.

(Third century paintings of St. Christopher from the Byzantine Museum in Greece).


There are also stories that St. Mercurius (third century AD) converted cynocephali to Christianity, who then fought along side him in some of his battles. I find the idea that cynocephali were used in battle compelling since the spirit cynocephalus in my photo appears to be wearing a cloth bandage around his head giving me the sense that he has been in battle.

From The Travels of Marco Polo (Chapter 8, Concerning the Island of Angamanian):

"Angamanain is a very large Island. The people are without a king and are Idolaters, and no better than wild beasts. And I assure you all the men of this Island of Angamanain have heads like dogs, and teeth and eyes likewise; in fact, in the face they are all just like big mastiff dogs! They have a quantity of spices; but they are a most cruel generation, and eat everybody that they can catch, if not of their own race."

 

 
Illustration of the Dog-Headed Men of Angamanain from
The Boy Travellers in the Far East by Thomas Wallace Knox (1880).


Sculpted relief from 12th century Church of
Sante-Marie-Madeleine at V├ęzelay in Burgundy, France.


I found this image amongst other interesting artifacts relating to the adventures of
Alexander the Great and is labelled as Fighting the "dog-headed men" (India).


 
Image from Nuremburg Chronicle of medieval world histories, one of
the best documented, early-printed books (1440-1514).

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