Monopods (also sciapods, skiapods, skiapodes, Monocoli) are mythological human creatures with a single, large foot extending from a leg centered in the middle of their body. The name Skiapodes is derived from σκιαποδες - "shadow feet" in Greek, monocoli from μονοκωλοι - 'one legged' in Greek.
References in premodern history
These were described by Pliny the Elder in Naturalis Historia. Pliny describes how travelers have reported their encounters or sights of Monopods in India, and he records their stories. Pliny remarks that they are first mentioned by Ctesias in his book Indika (India), a record of the view of Persians of India which only remains in fragments. Pliny describes Monopods as thus (Natural History 7:2):
He [Ctesias] speaks also of another race of men, who are known as Monocoli, who have only one leg, but are able to leap with surprising agility. The same people are also called Sciapodae, because they are in the habit of lying on their backs, during the time of the extreme heat, and protect themselves from the sun by the shade of their feet.
Philostratus mentions Skiapodes in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana, which was cited by Eusebius in his Treatise Against Hierocles. Apollonius of Tyana believes the Skiapodes live in India and Ethiopia, and asks the Indian sage Iarkhas about their existence.
St. Augustine mentions the "Skiopodes" in The City of God, Book 16 in the 8th chapter entitled, "Whether Certain Monstrous Races of Men Are Derived From the Stock of Adam or Noah's Sons." Reference to the legend continued into the Middle Ages, for example with Isidore of Seville in his Etymologiae.
According to Carl A.P. Ruck, the Monopods's cited existence in India refers to the Vedic Aja Ekapad ("Not-born Single-foot"), an epithet for Soma. Since Soma is a botanical deity the single foot would represent the stem of an entheogenic plant or fungus. 
It is possible that the myth derived from a misinterpretation of the practice of Indian yogis (sadhu) who sometimes meditate on one foot.
Modern references and popular culture
Chronicles of Narnia
C.S. Lewis introduces monopods in the book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a part of his children's series The Chronicles of Narnia. In the story, the Duffers or 'Dufflepuds', a tribe of monopodal dwarves, inhabit a small island near the edge of the Narnian world along with a Star magician named Coriakin, who transformed them into monopods as a punishment. They were so unhappy with their appearance that they made themselves invisible. Lucy Pevensie later made them visible again. They were (re)discovered by explorers from the Narnian ship the Dawn Treader which had landed on the island to rest and resupply.
Saga of Erik the Red
In the Saga of Erik the Red, Karlsefni, accompanied by Thorvald Eriksson and others, sails around Kjalarnes and then south, keeping land on their left side, hoping to find Thorhall. After sailing for a long time, while moored on the south side of a west-flowing river, they are shot at by a one-footed man, and Thorvald dies from an arrow-wound:
|“||True it was that our men tracked a one-legged creature down to the shore. The uncanny fellow fled in a flash, though rough was his way, hear us Karlsefni!||”|
Skiapods in Baudolino
Sciapod is part of the Monster in My Pocket series. There is a South American legend of a monopod woman named 'Patasola'. Sukiya Podes (a Japanization then re-romanization of Skiapodes) is a character in the Puyo Puyo series. In the Legend Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain, a massive sciapod has control over the animals and outstanding physical strength.
Brazilian modernist Tarsila do Amaral's painting "Abaporu" is said[by whom?] to be a representation of a sciapod.
Tim MacIntosh-Smith briefly refers to edible monopod poets in the preface to Yemen - Travels in Dictionary Land.
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