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Volume 0107

Tarzan the Terrible

Although Mr. Burroughs has not included a scale with his map my extrapolating estimate is that Pal-ul-don stretches approximately 70 miles north-south and 50 miles east-west for an area of approximately 3500 square miles.
Pal-ul-don Map: Cartography by E.R.Burroughs
The land of Pal-ul-don contains a wide range of landforms fringed by an almost-impenetrable morass beyond which lies a vast thorn desert.
“[Tarzan] made his way toward the southwest, crossing, after the most appalling hardships, a vast waterless steppe covered for the most part with dense thorn...”
“…after weeks of arduous effort he succeeded in finding a spot where he might cross the morasses – a hideous stretch infested by venomous snakes and other larger dangerous reptiles.”
“ …he realized why it was that for perhaps countless ages this territory had defied … the heroic races of the outer world.”
“When at last he stood upon firm ground after crossing the morasses… Here were precipitous mountains, well-watered plateaus, wide plains, and vast swampy morasses…” (pp. 5-6)

ERB in the swamps of Pal-ul-don
One of the few men to have crossed the morasses of Pal-ul-don

The vegetation is typical for this latitudinal location in interior Africa.
“…the country was rich in game animals and birds and fish, in fruit and the countless other forms of vegetable life…” (p. 8)
There are remarkable animals native to Pal-ul-don which appear nowhere else on earth – at least in recent times. The encompassing morass is teeming with insect, amphibian, saurian and reptilian life. In addition to the usual African crocodiles, serpents, and lizards there are swarms of prehistoric species.

The most prominent species of prehistoric life in Pal-ul-don is the gryf – a carnivorous version of the triceratops – a dinosaur believed to have been extinct for over 50 million years. The gryf wanders over the entire area but appears to have staked out its mating grounds in the gorge, Kor-ul-gryf, situated in the northern part of the main Valley of Jad-ben-otho.

“’This thing that you call a gryf is a triceratops and it has been extinct for hundreds of thousands of years…’ Instantly the great bony hood over the neck was erected and a mad bellow rolled upward from the gigantic body. Full twenty feet at the shoulder the thing stood, a dirty slate-blue in color except for its yellow face with the blue bands encircling the eyes, the red hood with the yellow lining and the yellow belly. The three parallel lines of bony protuberances down the back gave a further touch of color to the body, those following the lines of the spine being red, while those on either side are yellow. The five and three-toed hoofs of the ancient horned dinosaurs had become talons in the gryf, but the three horns, two large ones above the eyes and a median horn on the nose, had persisted through the ages.”

Also roaming the area are two dangerous lion-like beasts. The ja is identical to the modern day African lion except for its brown, leopard-spots. The second cat – the jato - appears to be a hybrid of a sabre-tooth tiger and a lion. This vicious yellow-and-black striped predator is armed with long knifelike canine teeth curving down from its upper jaw.

Humanoid Pithecanthropi  Races
Ho-don (the tailed, white, hairless race)
“…it walked upon two feet and was hairless except for a black thatch upon its head; its arms were well shaped and muscular; its hands powerful and slender with long tapering fingers and thumbs reaching almost to the first joint of the index fingers. Its legs too were shapely but its feet departed from the standards of all races of men, except possibly a few of the lowest races, in that the great toes protruded at right angles from the foot.

“[The features] were strong, clean cut, and regular – features that would have attracted attention for their masculine beauty in any of the great capitals of the world. But was this thing a man? … for beneath the loin cloth of black fur that girdled its thighs there depended a long hairless, white tail.” (p. 2)

In addition to animal skin loincloths, the females of the species wear gold breastplates and both sexes wear leather belts, knife sheaths and pouches adorned with gold and gemstones.

The Ho-don are culturally the most advanced of the humanoids. They live as organized societies in scattered clusters of settlements which are hand carved from limestone hillocks. Each city has a king while the king of the largest city A-lur is recognized as supreme ruler of all Ho-dans.

A prominent feature of the ritualistic Ho-don religion is that of human sacrifice to the tailless god, Jad-Ben-Otho.

Waz-don (the tailed, black, hair-covered race)
The Waz-don are essentially the same as the  Ho-don in appearance and accouterment except for the black hair which covers most of the body. The hair cover is longer in men, while that which covers the women is shorter and sleeker – almost like seal fur.

Unlike the Ho-don, the Waz-don are organized in smaller independent tribes which dwell either in arboreal villages in the forests, or more often, in caves that they have carved into the sheer cliffs of the mountains which surround the Valley of Jad-Ben-Otho. They practice limited agriculture employing a spear-like digging implement. Each tribe has its own gund (chief).

Their religious belief centers around the creator Jad-Ben-Otho (The Great God). The Waz-don believe that god has a tail, the Ho-don believe that he is tailless – and each race is prepared to fight to the death for their beliefs.

Waz-ho-don (the hybrid race – interbred Ho-don and Waz-don)
Since Tarzan made no contact with this race we have no description of them. We can only assume that they have features common to both Ho-don and Waz-don – with whom they share a common language and religious belief. They are apparently politically autonomous.

Tor-o-don (beast-like man)
This humanoid species resembles some form of great ape. They are covered with coarse black hair and possess a prehensile tail. The Tor-o-don's size, weight and strength would match that of a gorilla. The  species is probably ancestral to both the Waz-don and Ho-don… and possibly modern man.

“The creature, walking erect and carrying a stick in one hand, advanced at a slow, lumbering gait. … Tarzan saw the bestial face, the great fangs, the mighty muscles. From the loins of such had sprung the human race – and only from such could it have sprung, for only such as this might have survived the horrid dangers of the age that was theirs.” (pp. 113-114)

Mr. Burroughs appears to have had fun with Pal-ul-don grammar:

The names of all male Ho-dan begin with a consonant, have an even number of syllables and end with a consonant; while the names of the females begin with a vowel, have an odd number of syllables, and end with a vowel.

The names of all male Waz-don have an even number of syllables, begin with a vowel and end with a consonant; while the names of the females have an odd number of syllables, begin with a consonant and end with a vowel.

“I have used the Pal-ul-don word for gorge with the English plural, which is not the correct native plural form. The latter, it seems to me, is awkward for us and so I have generally ignored it throughout my manuscript, permitting, for example, Kor-ul-ja to answer for both singular and plural.

“However, for the benefit of those who may be interested in such things I may say that the plurals are formed simply for all words in the Pal-ul-don language by doubling the initial letter of the word, as K’kor gorges, pronounced as though written kakor, the a having the sound of a in sofa. Lions, then, would be j’ja; men, d’don."

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