Tcho-Tcho

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"Beast Creatures", a 1980s direct-to-video horror variant on the Tcho-Tcho theme...

The Tcho-Tcho, or Tcho-Tcho people, are a fictional human-like race of cannibals in the Cthulhu Mythos.

Appearances

Rare Mummified Tcho-Tcho

The Tcho-Tcho are first mentioned in August Derleth's 1933 short story "The Thing That Walked on the Wind", in which a character refers in passing to "the forbidden and accursed designs of the Tcho-Tcho people of Burma". Later that year, in "Lair of the Star-Spawn", co-written with Mark Shorer, Derleth expanded on the Tcho-Tcho, describing them as a short, hairless people that worship Lloigor and Zhar.

In H. P. Lovecraft's "The Shadow Out of Time" 1936, they are described as "abominable".

In T.E.D. Klein's novella Black Man with a Horn, first published in New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos in 1980, the Tcho-Tchos are described by an American missionary who has met them as "the nastiest people who ever lived(...) They'd been living way up in those hills I don't know how many centuries, and whatever it is they were doing, they weren't going to let a stranger in on it".

Tcho-Tchos attack Charles Fort and Arthur Conan Doyle on a couple of occasions in Gordon Rennie and Frazer Irving's 2000 AD strip Necronauts.

In the Call of Cthulhu adventure game book "Curse of the Chthonians" the Tcho-Tchos are referred to as a degenerate and cannibalistic race that worship strange gods. They are noted to have been living in southeast Asia in the 1920's, having migrated from Tibet, their homeland. Apparently they follow an ancient legend about migrating toward the rising sun, which has caused speculation that they may have one time lived as far as Europe. A Basque legend of "dark dwarves that left their home in the Pyrenees at the command of their priests" supports that theory.

In the novel The Spiraling Worm by David Conyers and John Sunseri, Tcho-Tchos are presented as combatants during the Vietnam War who utilize the powers of an Outer God to gain military intelligence on their American foes. In the Delta Green role-playing game, the Tcho-Tcho are said to be cannibalistic criminals devoted to the worship of the Great Old Ones and to have received funding and weapons by the CIA-owned campaign of support to anti-Vietnamese ethnic groups in Indochina during the early 70s, via the Air America front company. The Call of Cthulhu (d20) version of the Call of Cthulhu roleplay setting claims that some Tcho-Tcho refugees have actually integrated themselves into modern Western society, masquerading as just another harmless ethnic group while keeping their unwholesome rites and diets secret from the outside world.


Diet

Tcho-Tcho Cannibal Feast

Human corpses are often buried for days then exhumed once the corpses were infested with maggots at which point the corpse would be dismembered and served with the maggots as a side dish: "When a body was considered for human consumption, none of it was discarded except the bitter gall bladder. In the deceased’s old sugarcane garden, maternal kin dismembered the corpse with a bamboo knife and stone axe. They first removed hands and feet, then cut open the arms and legs to strip the muscles. Opening the chest and belly, they avoided rupturing the gall bladder, whose bitter content would ruin the meat. After severing the head, they fractured the skull to remove the brain. Meat, viscera, and brain were all eaten. Marrow was sucked from cracked bones, and sometimes the pulverized bones themselves were cooked and eaten with green vegetables. [In some populations], the corpse was buried for several days, then exhumed and eaten when the flesh had 'ripened' and the maggots could be cooked as a separate delicacy." (Liberski, P. P. (2009). "Kuru: Its ramifications after fifty years". Experimental Gerontology.)

Bak bon dzhow The Call of Cthulhu (d20) version of the Call of Cthulhu roleplay setting claims that a delicacy of their cannibalistic cuisine, which they secretly dole out to unsuspecting diners at their "ethnic restaurants", is a dish called bak bon dzhow. This dish is composed of human ganglia mashed into a thick paste and is usually served in accompaniment to other "white pork" (human flesh) based dishes. Bak bon dzhow means, literally, human ganglia paste in their blasphemous native tongue, though inquisitive outsiders are always told that the translation is "White Pork Sauce". Non-Tcho-Tchos who partake of it dream of lustily partaking in a vile cannibal feast the next time they sleep.

Chow-syum "A delicious delicacy prepared only at the finest Tcho-Tcho ethnic restaurants. It tastes a bit like sweet-and-sour pork. Highly recommended!" *


Chawa

Chawa, from a Tcho-Tcho word meaning "enlightment", "wisdom", or "laughter", is a prion (mutant protein) disease contracted from eating infected human flesh, often found in its early stages in in many Tcho-Tcho populations and sometimes found in its terminal stages in outside populations living near Tcho-Tcho settlements.

Chawa is characterized by disruptions to infected tissue (especially brain and nervous tissue) marked by the formation of spongey "holes" in the tissue. Following a relatively long incubation period (5 to 20 years), early symptoms may appear, followed by rapid progress in the disease, leading to brain damage and death. There is no known cure for chawa.

Early symptoms include hallucinations, vivid dreams, a general weakness, poor coordination and balance, euphoria and/or depression, and other neurological symptoms. Symptoms quickly progress in severity, and soon include difficulties with swallowing, difficulty walking or standing, distorted and slurred speech, violent shivering, seizures, and compulsive outbursts of strange vocalizations similar to laughter. In the terminal stage of the disease, the victim is unable to speak, has severe difficulty swallowing, becomes unresponsive to his/her surroundings, and develops open sores and skin ulcerations. A victim typically dies within a few months to two years after first symptoms, often because of complications such as pneumonia or secondary infections.

Some experts theorize that Tcho-Tchos have developed immunity to the most severe symptoms of chawa, and it seems that many Tcho-Tchos consider infected tissue a particular delicacy, often feeding morsels of infected brain tissue to young children and elderly relatives. It is unclear how outsiders contract the disease and develop its most severe symptoms, but similarities to other prion diseases suggest the primary method of transmission is through eating infected tissue, and that these victims have come in contact with or have deliberately or accidentally consumed human tissue infected with chawa.


Heresies and Controversies

  • Tcho-Tcho have no hair, fingernails, or toenails. (August Derleth described the Tcho-Tcho as "hairless")
  • Certain passages from Cultes des Goules imply that there were Tcho-Tcho colonies to be found in north of North America since ancient times, where they were shunned by local tribes as demons or evil spirits or Wendigo. Local names for the cannibal dwarfs include "Teihiihan", "Hecesiiteihii" and "Nimerigar", derived from words referring to the legendary strength, ferocity, and savagery of the creatures. Descriptions vary, but they are usually said to be the size of children, dark-skinned, and extremely aggressive; some suggest that the dwarves' warlike temperament comes because they must be killed in battle to reach the dwarf afterworld, while others believe that they were gluttons who habitually killed more than they could eat just because they could. According to most versions of the story, the race of cannibal dwarves was destroyed in an ancient war with the Arapahos and other allied Native American tribes. (Arapaho and other Native American folklore)
  • Sub-Saharan African legends from several wide-spread sources about clans of secretive, light-skinned, shape-shifting, cannibal "pygmies" living deep in the forests and jungles of that continent who were credited with teaching the secret cults of witchcraft and vampirism to the natives in ancient times, and suggests monstrous and controversial connections to the Tcho-Tcho. (standard "Dark Continent" pulp fiction tropes)
  • Stories about diminutive, telepathic, almond-eyed, yellow-skinned, "Reptilian" alien "Djero" people living in vast, underground vault-cities, kidnapping and interbreeding with the homeless and making secret treaties with the "Greys", have been a regular feature of late-night conspiracy talk radio since the 1980s, but actually seem to have had their origins much older urban legends from the 1940s and 1950s; if UFO conspiracy theorists are to be believed, the Tcho-Tcho have colonies on Mars, Venus, and a few moons throughout the solar system. (UFO conspiracy theories)
  • Some scholars claim that Tcho-Tcho colonies in the British Isles inspired monstrous tales of the faeries, and similar colonies found in the Basque regions of Spain and France inspired tales of "black dwarfs", preserved in the oral traditions of the Celts and their descendants throughout Europe as legends about evil dwarfs and goblins. (European folklore)
  • Mythos scholars have also hinted at the possibility that one or more small Tcho-Tcho colonies can be found living deep in uncharted jungles near the Amazon river in South America, though it is unclear how the Tcho-Tchos could have migrated there. (standard pulp fiction tropes)
  • See the "Discussion" tab for other fan theories and suggestions....


Keeper Notes

Quotes

  • "...the wholly abominable Tcho-Tchos..." - H.P. Lovecraft, The Shadow Out Of Time (fiction)
  • "...They were a horde of little men, the tallest of them no more than four feet, with singularly small eyes set deep in dome-like, hairless heads. These queer attackers fell upon the party and had killed men and animals with their bright swords almost before our men could extract their weapons.... It is true that strange legends had reached us even before we had left Ho-Nan province of a weird race of little people, to whom the natives applied the odd name, Tcho-Tcho." - August Derleth & Mark Schorer, The Lair Of the Star Spawn
  • "'I truly believe they must be the nastiest people who ever lived,' he said with great deliberation. 'I sometimes wonder how God could have created them. {...} They called themselves the Chauchas, near as I could make out. Some French colonial influence, maybe, but they looked Asiatic to me, with just a touch of black. Little people. Harmless looking.' He gave a small shudder. 'But they were nothing like what they seemed. You couldn't get to the bottom of them. They'd been living way up in those hills I don't know how many centuries, and whatever it is they were doing, they weren't going to let a stranger in on it. They called themselves Moslems, just like the lowlanders, but I'm sure there must have been a few bush-gods mixed in. I thought they were primitive, at first, I mean, some of their rituals - you wouldn't believe it. But now ! think they weren't primitive at all. They just kept those rituals because they enjoyed them!' He tried to smile; it just accentuated the lines of his face. 'Oh, they seemed friendly enough in the beginning,' he said. 'You could approach them, do a bit of trading, watch them breed their animals. You could even talk to them about Salvation. And they'd just keep smiling, smiling all the time. As if they really liked you.'" - T. E. D. Klein, "Black Man with a Horn"
  • "Lloigor, Zhar and Ithaqua shall ride the spaces among the stars and shall ennoble those who are their followers, who are the Tcho-Tcho...." - August Derleth, The Lurker At the Threshold (fiction)
  • "...A little man - the smallest I have ever seen - with a great, misshapen head and a shock of tangled, disheveled hair... a savage, distorted creature... he was wrapped in some sort of dark ulster or blanket, which left only his face exposed; but that face was enough to give a man a sleepless night. Never have I seen features so deeply marked with all bestiality and cruelty. His small eyes glowed and burned with a sombre light, and his thick lips were writhed back from his teeth, which grinned and chattered at us with a half animal fury... an unhallowed dwarf with his hideous face, and his strong yellow teeth gnashing at us in the light of our lantern...." - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Sign of the Four"
  • "They are naturally hideous, having large, misshapen heads, small, fierce eyes, and distorted features. Their feet and hands, however, are remarkably small. So intractable and fierce are they that all the efforts of the British official have failed to win them over in any degree. They have always been a terror to shipwrecked crews, braining the survivors with their stone-headed clubs, or shooting them with their poisoned arrows. These massacres are invariably concluded by a cannibal feast." - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Sign of the Four"


External links