Cynocephali: the Dog-Headed People

Throughout history, numerous references to these beings with the head of a jackal or dog are found in ancient Greek and Chinese texts.


In China, the Buddhist missionary Hui-Sheng narrated the encounter with the dog-headed men on an island east of Fusang and the famous traveler Marco Polo also mentions the cynocephalians, and his texts speak of the dog-headed barbarians who lived and cultivated spices in the Andaman Islands.

The fifth-century Greek physician and historian Ctesias of Cnidus wrote that in the Indian mountains he saw men with the heads of dogs who did not talk but barked and had teeth larger than dogs and claws like animals. They were known to live on raw meat and fruit and hunted with bows and arrows.

They traded with the locals and sent tribute to the king of India. They lived in caves, had tanned skin and all had a tail like a dog’s, only longer.


It is not known for sure who or what these travelers saw while exploring the ancient world and its unknown areas.

Some researchers believe that these legends could have been the result of tribes of baboons, mandrills or other primate species mixing with humans.

Cynocephali illustrated in the Kiev psalter in 1397.

However, lovers of the occult believe that cynocephalians would in fact have existed, as well as other mythological creatures, such as the Minotaur or werewolves and unicorns.

Sometimes it’s nice to wonder what marvels used to exist, after all, you never know what an archaeologist or historian will find in their next investigations.