Giants: Fact or Fiction?

By Scott Corrales FATE :: May 2006


The autobiography of the Tibetan lama Chagdud Tulku (Lord of the Dance, California: Padma Press, 1992, pp. 110–111) contains a fascinating reference to a Tibetan mountain giant and how a seeker of mystical relics was able to come across its remains.

While on their way to the monastery of Chudo Gompa in the mountains to witness dancing and ceremonial pageantry, the lama and his retinue came across a stupa marking the site where the legendary hero Gesar had entombed a slain giantess in ages past. A few months prior to Chagdud Tulku’s arrival, he writes, a seeker of treasure and holy relics known as a terton had stopped by the monastery to challenge the assertion that any unknown entity had been buried at that spot long ago. He had it on good authority, as the terton professed to be the incarnation of Shanpa, the hero Gesar’s companion.

“I was here when we put her under a big rock by the river,” he challenged the monks, urging them to prove him false by digging at the indicated spot.

His challenge was taken up and hasty excavations soon began at a location marked by the terton with a 25-foot circle. The digging took days, but a massive stone disk was found at the bottom; excitedly, the monks summoned the treasure finder to show him the results of their efforts.

“He supervised as they wedged poles under the rock to pry it up and support it,” writes Chagdud Tulku, and the monks and their gang of laborers were able to remove the massive remains, “the bones of a giantess whose upper arm had been more than five feet long.” The author adds that these mountain ogres had at once been endemic to the region and feasted on hapless humans until eliminated by the legendary hero. Because this was not an archaeological dig but an effort to ascertain the powers of the treasure hunter, the massive bones were returned to the site of their entombment and the stone disk placed over them once more.

At this point we can only wonder if those remains, so carefully buried in a distant age and concealed under a seemingly man-made stone disk, belonged to some extinct animal of the Pleistocene megafauna. Perhaps they were indeed the remains of one of the giants that has haunted human imagination since the dawn of time in every continent and every culture.

Who Can Withstand the Sons of Anak?

Giants and larger-than-human beings have played a major role in the development of many cultures, harkening back to the Biblical Anakim who occupied certain locations of the land of Canaan, according to the Pentateuch, where the Israelites complain to Moses of their inability to take on the colossal dwellers of the new land, namely Ahiman, Seshai, and Talmai, descendants of the mighty Anak.

“The country we explored, they said, will swallow up any who go to live in it. All the people we saw there are men of gigantic size. When we set sight on [the Anakim] we felt no bigger than grasshoppers…” (Numbers 13:32–33). The sense of hopelessness that Moses’s scouting party must have felt at the prospect of fighting these giants is repeated once more: “Our kinsmen have discouraged us by their report of a people bigger and taller than we are, and of great cities with fortifications towering to the sky. And they told us they saw there the descendants of the Anakim” (Deuteronomy 1:28). “Who can withstand the sons of Anak?” they ask despairingly at one point.

As if the Anakim weren’t enough, the Israelites had to face Og of Bashan, “the sole survivor of the Rephaim.” The Scriptures tell us that this gargantuan monarch was buried in a basalt sarcophagus measuring 14 feet long by 6 feet wide. But a “devouring fire” (generated perhaps by the Ark of the Covenant?) destroyed the giant Anakim throughout Judah and Israel, leaving isolated survivors in the coastal cities of Gaza, Askalon, and Gath, this latter site perhaps best known as the birthplace of the nine-foot-tall armored giant Goliath who faced the young David. Yet the legendary defeat of this towering presence did not appear to bring an end to the giants in the holy land. The Book of Samuel gives us the names of other colossi, such as Benob and Saph “who died in the battle of Gob,” and an unnamed giant suffering from polydactylism (II Samuel 21:20).

Further giant-slaying appears in I Chronicles 20:4–8 when discussing the prowess of King David and his victories against all adversaries: “…Sibecai slew Sipai, of the descendants of the giants…and Elhanan son of Jair slew Lahmi, brother of Goliath, whose spear was as big as a weaver’s beam…these were the descendants of the giants in Gath.” 

The Monstrous Quinametzin

As the bloodthirsty Nuño de Guzmán pushed his way into northern Mexico to establish the province known as Nueva Galicia, he arrived at the site of modern Guadalajara and was startled to see a number of deserted cities of large size. His interpreters told him that these ruins were the foundations of the population centers occupied by the giant Quinametzin. Who were these unknown entities?