Monopods (also skiapods, skiapodes, Monocoli) are dwarf-like creatures with a single, large foot extending from one thick 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.
Pliny and Naturalis Historia
These were first described by Pliny the Elder
in Naturalis Historia
. Pliny describes how travellers have reported their encounters or sights of Monopods, and he records their stories.
Pliny remarks that they are first mentioned by Ctesias who places them in India. Pliny describes them 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.
The legend of the Monopod survived into the Middle Ages. Isidore of Seville mentions this strange creature in his Etymologiae.
Chronicles of Narnia
revived the tale of monopods in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
According to the book by C. S. Lewis, the Duffers, along with a magician, Coriakin, inhabited a small island near the edge of the world of Narnia in the middle of the ocean. They were discovered by the explorers on the Dawn Treader after they landed on the island to rest. The travellers gave the Duffers oars and instructed them to jump on the water as lightly as possible and row themselves about on their single, large foot. Before leaving, the name Monopods is given to them, however, the unintelligent Duffers soon mixed up the name, saying " 'Moneypuds, Pomonods, Poddymons.' " Eventually, they settled with the name Dufflepuds.
In their monopod form, their one leg is usually three feet long, and ends in a large canoe-like foot. When they sleep, each lies on his back with his foot acting as a kind of umbrella over them. According to Brian Sibley's book The Land of Narnia, Lewis may have based their appearance on drawings from the Hereford Mappa Mundi.
Skiapods in Baudolino
in his novel Baudolino
describes a sciapod named Gavagai. The name of the creature "Gavagai" is a reference to Quine's
example of indeterminacy of translation
Basis of Myth
It is possible that the myth derived from a misinterpretation of the practice of Indian yogis (sadhu
) who sometimes meditate on one foot. It can also be connected to the disease of tropical elephantiasis
Sciapod is also part of the Monster in My Pocket
There is a South American legend of a monopod lady nicknamed 'La Patasola'.
Sukiya Podes (a Japanization then re-romanization of Sciapodes) is a character in the Puyo Puyo series.
In the Legend Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain, a massive sciapod is mentioned to have control over the animals and to have outstanding physical strength.