Written for The Argo by Annie Imran of the Pakistani Student Association
Born to a Spanish family and raised in France, Jordi Magraner was a cryptozoologist who was on a hunt for a bipedal humanoid primate cryptid, otherwise known as the Yeti. But in Pakistan, where this story takes place, it is known as the Barmanou. Described as a hairy, muscly, scary ape-man, the Barmanou is a character who appears in the folklore of northern Pakistan, told by the people who reside near the Hindu Kush area of the Himalayas.
In the late 1980s, having heard of these folk stories, 29-year-old Magraner took off to the Chitral valleys in northern Pakistan for the first time in search of this creature. Once there, he gathered information on the flora/fauna of the area and collected close to fifty eyewitness reports from locals. However, there were some questionable decisions made on Magraner’s part during his stay in Pakistan. One of those was his decision to take in a young Kalash boy named Wazir as his protégé, who he shared a bedroom with. This detail becomes even more concerning when considering that Magraner lost his job at the Alliance Française in Peshawar over allegations of pedophilia.
In the 90s, Magraner published his report on the subject, titled, Notes sur les hominidés reliques d’Asie centrale / Notes on the Relic Hominids of Central Asia. There are English translations of this report online, where one can read the sixty-plus bodily descriptions of the Barmanou. His work was shared quite extensively to the point where he presented his results at Cambridge.
As random and almost silly as this story might seem, things took a dark twist towards the end of Magraner’s life. The then 35-year-old researcher and 12-year-old protégé were found murdered. To this day, the authorities have not been able to pinpoint the motive behind this murder, let alone who did it. It is known that prior to this event, threats from the locals had been sent Magraner’s way; however, police have also stated that the researcher was staying in Pakistan illegally, as his visa was expired, and that there is evidence of his involvement in mysterious activities. Magraner now lies in the Kalash cemetery, as the only grave to have his name incised on a headstone.
A story starting out with one man’s conviction to find a creature of folktale ends with two unsolved mysteries. Why was Magraner murdered? And does the Barmanou of northern Pakistan really exist, or will it forever remain a horrific character of folktales? Perhaps we’ll never know.
Want to learn more? Check out these links!
Categories: Your Voice