Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Amanab The Greek Giant - Unemployed in 1886 - What Else Is New?

My Big, Tall Greek Giant

Mary Karmelek | Mar 29, 2011

The Scientific American supplement from December 4, 1886, featured a drawn reproduction of a photograph taken of Amanab, the “Greek Giant”. Amanab was born in 1868 near Kerassond in Trebizonde—a successor state of the Byzantine Empire located on the southern shore of the Black Sea. At the time of the article, he was 18 years old and measured seven feet nine inches in height, had a head circumference of 26 and three quarter inches, and a chest measurement of four feet four inches. The article notes that Amanab was currently unemployed, but intended “to visit the principal cities of Europe and exhibit himself to the public,” presumably for a fee.

In those days it wasn't considered rude or politically incorrect to gawk at people who were 'abnormal.' They were put on display at carnivals in so-called 'freak shows,' and people paid to see them.

But how do you set a fee for a look at a very big and tall person? Is it by inch, by foot, by gasp or a flat rate?

The article also mentions other “giants” who were contemporaries of Amanab. For example, “A very remarkable Chinese giant named Chang was exhibited at Paris a few years ago. He was larger than the Greek under consideration, his height being eight feet; and, unlike his similars, he was intelligent and educated and spoke several languages.”

Whereas he may not have been as educated as Chang, Amanab can claim literary fame as the model for the Greek giant “Auvassab” mentioned in a discussion on giants in Jules Verne’s The Will of the Eccentric.

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