Tracking the Weretiger: Supernatural Man-Eaters of India, China and Southeast Asia

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McFarland, Sep 19, 2012 - Social Science - 216 pages
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Drawing on dramatic accounts by European colonials, and on detailed studies by folklorists and anthropologists, this work explores intriguing age-old Asian beliefs and claims that man-eating tigers and "little tigers," or leopards alike, were in various ways supernatural. It is a serious work based on extensive research, written in a lively style. Fundamental to the book is the evocation of a long-vanished world. When a man-eater struck in colonial times, people typically said it was a demon sent by a deity, or even the deity itself in animal form, punishing transgressors and being guided by its victims' angry spirits. Colonials typically dismissed this as superstitious nonsense but given traditional ideas about the close links between people, tigers and the spirit world, it is quite understandable. Other man-eaters were said to be shapeshifting black magicians. The result is a rich fund of tales from India and the Malay world in particular, and while some people undoubtedly believed them, others took advantage of man-eaters to persecute minorities as the supposed true culprits. The book explores the prejudices behind these witch-hunts, and also considers Asian weretiger and wereleopard lore in a wider context, finding common features with the more familiar werewolves of medieval Europe in particular.
 

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Newman’s easy style and the fascinating uniqueness of his topic will draw you in. I had no knowledge or interest in this subject until I picked up this book. Newman goes beyond the big game hunting ... Read full review

Contents

Preface
1
The World of the Weretiger
3
JungleWallahs and ManEaters
9
Together in Life and Death
27
Propitiation and Appeasement
55
JungleWallahs to the Rescue
76
Like Weretiger Like Werewolf
93
Negritos and Jambi Men Accused
113
Weretigers and Wereleopards in India
135
The White Sadhu and the Ultimate Terror
167
Chapter Notes
185
References
195
Glossary
200
Index
201
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About the author (2012)

Former reporter and feature writer for Asian Medical News in Hong Kong, Patrick Newman lives in the United Kingdom.

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