hand out

Pangboche Hand

The Pangboche Hand is an artifact stolen from a Buddhist monastery in Pangboche, Nepal. Supporters contend that the hand is from a Yeti, a scientifically unrecognized animal purported to live in the Himalayan mountains. Critics argue the artifact is a fraud, based upon a probable misunderstanding of the history of the sacred relic.

Discovery by outsiders

Oil businessman and adventurer Tom Slick first heard accounts of the possible existence of a "Yeti hand" held as a ritual artifact in the monastery at Pangboche during one of his first "Abominable Snowman" treks in 1957. The Slick expeditions were the first to bring photographs of the hand back to the West.

On later Tom Slick-sponsored expeditions in and around the Himalayas, his associates gathered more information on the "Pangboche hand," and an effort to further examine the possible piece of evidence of a cryptid was planned. In 1959, Peter Byrne, a member of Slick's expedition that year, reportedly stole pieces of the artifact after the monks who owned it refused to allow its removal for study. Byrne claimed to have replaced the stolen bone fragments with human bones, rewrapping the hand to disguise his theft.

Byrne smuggled the bones from Nepal into India, after which actor James Stewart allegedly smuggled the hand out of the country in his luggage. Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman rediscovered this story while writing Tom Slick's biography in the 1980s. Coleman confirmed details of the incidents with written materials in the Slick archives, interviews with Byrne, and correspondence with Stewart. Byrne later confirmed the Pangboche hand story via a letter from Stewart that Byrne published in a general book on Nepalese wildlife.

During the high-publicity 1960 World Book expedition, which had many goals including gathering intelligence on Chinese rocket launchings, controversy regarding the hand was inspired by Sir Edmund Hillary and Marlin Perkins who took a sidetrip in Nepal to investigate and debunk the Yeti. What was unknown to Hillary when he examined the Pangboche hand was that he was looking at a combination of original and human bones placed there by Byrne. Naturally, Hillary determined the artifact was a hoax.

Tests and analyses

London University primatologist W. C. Osman Hill conducted a physical examination of the pieces that Byrne supplied. His first findings were that it was hominid, but then later in 1960 he decided that the Pangboche fragments were a closer match with Neandertal, a type of hominid.

In 1991, in conjunction with Coleman's research, it was discovered that the Slick expedition consultant, an American anthropologist by the name of George Agogino, had retained samples of the Yeti hand. The NBC program Unsolved Mysteries obtained samples and determined they were similar to human tissue, but not human, and could only verify they were "near human." After the broadcast of the program, the entire hand was stolen from the Pangboche monastery, and reportedly disappeared into a private collection via the illegal underground in the sale of antiquities. George Agogino, before his death on September 11, 2000, transferred his important files on the Pangboche Yeti hand to Loren Coleman.



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