Almas (folklore)

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In Mongolian folklore, an almas, alma, or almasty, among other variants (Mongolian: Алмас, Chechen: Алмазы, Turkish: Albıs/Albız or Albastı), is a creature or deity said to inhabit the Caucasus and Pamir Mountains of Central Asia, and the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia.


The term "almas" and numerous variants thereof appear in Mongolian, Turkic languages, and Iranian languages.[1]

Writing in 1964, scholar P. R. Rinčen says that "the origin of the old name is quite unknown … and it does not lend itself for translation in other languages".[2][a]

The name is connected to a variety of place names (toponyms) in southwestern Mongolia, including Almasyn Dobo ('the Hills of Almases'), Almasyn Ulan Oula ('the Red Mountains of Almases') and ('the Red Rocks of Almases').[2]

Folk belief in the almas in Oburkhangai and Bayankhongor has resulted in a name-avoidance taboo there, wherein the entities may be referred to as akhai, meaning 'uncle-brother'.[2]

The folk traditions of Darkhad include the deity Almas khara Tenguer, meaning 'Almas the Black God' and associated with highland prairies and mountain forests. According to Rinčen, the god may be offered edible wild roots and wild animal meat.[3]


Nikolay Przhevalsky describes the almas, as related to him under the name kung-guressu ("man-beast"), as follows:

We were told that it had a flat face like that of a human being, and that it often walked on two legs, that its body was covered with a thick black fur, and its feet armed with enormous claws; that its strength was terrible, and that not only were hunters afraid of attacking it, but that the inhabitants removed their habitations from those parts of the country which it visited.[4]

Heaney suggests that the almas should be identified with the Arimaspi, a group of legendary humanoid creatures said to inhabit the Riphean Mountains.[1]

In science[edit]

In 1992, a group of scientists went on an expedition to search for the almas in the Caucasus Mountains.[5]

A 2014 study concluded that hair samples attributed to the almas were in fact from species including Ursus arctos, Equus caballus, and Bos taurus.[6] Gutiérrez and Pine concluded that several of these samples were from the brown bear.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rinčen also notes that Ivan T. Sanderson, one of the founders of the pseudoscience of cryptozoology, made attempts at explaining the name that are "absolutely inacceptable from the point of view of Mongolian philology.
  1. ^ a b Mayor, Adrienne; Heaney, Michael (1993). "Griffins and Arimaspeans". Folklore. 104 (1–2): 40–66 at 53–54. doi:10.1080/0015587X.1993.9715853. ISSN 0015-587X.
  2. ^ a b c Rinčen 1964, p. 186.
  3. ^ Rinčen 1964, pp. 186–187.
  4. ^ Przhevalskii, Nikolai (1876). Mongolia, the Tangut Country and the Solitudes of Northern Tibet. 2. Translated by Morgan, E. D. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington. p. 249. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ "Almasty international". The Economist. 323 (7765). 27 June 1992. Gale document number A12378431.
  6. ^ Sykes, Bryan C.; Mullis, Rhettman A.; Hagenmuller, Christophe; Melton, Terry W.; Sartori, Michel (2014-08-22). "Genetic analysis of hair samples attributed to yeti, bigfoot and other anomalous primates". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 281 (1789): 20140161. doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.0161. ISSN 0962-8452. PMC 4100498. PMID 24990672.
  7. ^ Gutiérrez, Eliécer; Pine, Ronald H. (2015-06-16). "No need to replace an "anomalous" primate (Primates) with an "anomalous" bear (Carnivora, Ursidae)". ZooKeys (487): 141–154. doi:10.3897/zookeys.487.9176. ISSN 1313-2970. PMC 4366689. PMID 25829853.