The Straight Dope

Your piece about the blue Fugates (July 23) was fascinating, but I don't think Lonijo's husband was talking about them when he referred to the "blue people" he studied in anthropology. The blue men are the Tuareg, a nomadic group of people in the Sahara whose traditional territories included Mali and parts of Niger, Morocco, Algeria, et cetera. They get their nickname from the blue robes they wear. Originally their clothing was deeply dyed with natural indigo. This was absorbed by the skin, which also took on a blue tinge. I have read that even babies were born with blue skin because of the indigo in their mothers' blood.

-- sthompson, via the Internet

I wanted to mention another blue population to you. It was a very ancient race of which Krishna was a member. Check out pictures of Krishna and his cohorts from one of the books the Hare Krishna members sell. You will see depictions of members of the blue race. It was long, long ago, and I guess that's why most people are unaware of them.

-- Beth Cummings

Please dig deeper in response to the line of inquiry initiated by Lonijo via AOL. I too was a student of anthropology some 30 years ago and also stumbled across reference to a former race of humanoids who were blue. Once, in addition to the four known races of mankind, there was a fifth race that dwelled on an unknown continent in the middle of the ocean between Asia and Europe (i.e., North America). This race, the most ancient of all, was called the Blue Moovians. They were very tall, about seven feet, and very thin, and had extremely large heads. They possessed all manner of powers of the mind: teleportation, telekinesis, ESP. One day, in response to a stimulus known only to them, they conveyed to regular humans that they had, through their powers of astral projection, located a planet more suitable to their needs in a far distant solar system or galaxy, and all at once they each and every one disappeared from the face of the Earth and teleported themselves there, never to be seen or heard from again. This supposedly occurred about 60,000 B.C. -- Mark S. Miller

Cecil, gimme a break. Really, an anthro course covering blue people in Kentucky and leaving out the Picts of Scotland? The Picts were an early race from northern Britain who fought naked and painted themselves blue with woad. They were known as the blue people.

-- Tom Riemers, via the Internet

You completely missed the Ainu, an indigenous people living in Japan whose skin hue is often described as blue. -- David de Graaf

In Irish-Scottish Gaeilge (or Gaelic), people of African descent were historically referred to as the fir gorum, or blue men. People of this race were described as "blue" rather than as "black." This may explain why a particular musical style often associated with an African-American influence is called "the blues." Then again, I may be wrong.

-- Ed O'Neill

More than that, chum. I'd say you blue it.
George Carlin may wonder why there's no blue food, but there's apparently no lack of blue people. A rundown on the suggestions above:

*Tuareg. The skin of these desert herders does turn blue from the dye they use in their clothing. Indeed, a blue tinge is considered healthful and beauteous. However, at the risk of showing insufficient appreciation for cultural diversity, what it really means is they're overdue for a bath.

*Krishna's race. Most likely this is what comes of cheesy color reproduction in those airport handouts.

*Blue Moovians. Too many B moovies, bub.

*Picts of Scotland. They are thought to have tattooed themselves. The name Pict derives from the Latin pictor, painter. Tattoos today often have a bluish cast; still, there's no definite evidence that the Picts were blue.

*The Ainu. In the anthropological literature, their skin is described as brown. However, an 1891 Smithsonian report comments, "It is difficult to speak with confidence, for they do not bathe or wash, and the natural color of the skin is not often seen." So who knows? Maybe it's blue.

*Africans as seen by the Scots and the Irish. Unable to confirm the use of this term. However, "the blues"? It is to laugh. In fact, Ed, not to lay too heavy a trip on you, blueswise, but I think you've got only one serious option:

Cyanide.

Is there something you need to get straight? Cecil Adams can deliver "The Straight Dope" on any topic. Write Cecil Adams at the Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago, IL 60611; e-mail him at cecil@chireader.com; or visit "The Straight Dope" area at America Online, keyword: Straight Dope.

 
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