|“||Cannibal pygmies...The pharaohs used to catch the little blighters and bring them back to Thebes for show. Sort of ill-tempered jesters.||”|
The cannibal pygmies, known colloquially as pygmies, were small humanoid beings that resided in the Oasis of Ahm Shere. The pygmies were known for their savagery towards humans and killed any that ventured into the Oasis.
Biology and appearance
|“||...the gnarled withered corpse of a pygmy, its bones bleached white, branches and vines grown through its exposed rib cage. The child body was topped by an adult-size head, with with closed crusty almond eyes and a wide, impossibly toothy mouth, fangs razor sharp.||”|
–the description given of the pygmies, The Mummy Returns (novelization)
The pygmies were small skeletal beings that once were living, and were composed of flesh and blood. The pygmies had been in the Oasis of Ahm Shere for thousands of years before they began to age along with the pyramid in the centre of the Oasis: the pygmies had thus taken on a withered appearance, with exposed bones and empty eye-sockets. The pygmies had also aged to the point that some specimens were covered with moss and had twigs and roots growing from their hollowed-out skulls. About the size of a human child with heads that were size of an adult human, the pygmies were equipped with razor-sharp teeth and enlarged eye sockets.
Though the pygmies could likely take no nourishment from eating whoever or whatever they caught and killed, they still hunted humans that visited their Oasis.
Society and culture
|“|| Look, Roman Legionnaires. And here, turn-of-the-century French: Napoleon's troops.|
What in the name of Anubis did this?
Long ago, when the Oasis of Ahm Shere was visited by the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, the pygmies were living beings that were caught by the pharaohs themselves so as to be taken back to Thebes and be put on display as jesters. The pygmies were described as "ill-tempered", which referred to their tendency to kill off humans that came into the Oasis, and to take their skulls as prizes, even practising shrinking their victims' heads from time to time.
The pygmies had also practised some form of belief, having a clearing in the Oasis that was marked with white stones, indicating a form of burial ground that could, nevertheless, be entered, and the pygmies had also considered the golden pyramid within the Oasis to be some house of worship, taking offence at intruders as they tore the flesh from Baltus Hafez's arm when he entered the pyramid to activate its powers.
The pygmies also feared beings that had greater power, such as the resurrected mummy Imhotep, which they would not attack, and apparently, the Scorpion King himself, who they were said to serve.
The cannibal pygmies had been residing within the Oasis for millennia and had encountered humans throughout those years, taking many of them as prey. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt caught the pygmies and brought them to Thebes against their will where the pygmies served as jesters. The pygmies had tortured caught humans in turn by decapitation and by forcing them into cages where they likely starved to death, claiming victims from many different epochs, from Roman Legionnaires sent by Julius Caesar to troops sent by the French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte.
Attacks in 1933
Over time, the pygmies died away, leaving little more than desiccated, withered flesh and bones, some allowing plant life to grow in their skulls as they became nothing more or less than enchanted skeletons.
The pygmies had attacked a number of cultists that were passing through the Oasis so as to find the Scorpion King and defeat him, taking his power; the undead natives had killed off many of the cultists but would not harm their highest member, the resurrected mummy Imhotep, fearing him and backing away from him.
The pygmies continued to kill off whatever humans they could catch, but did not manage to capture the cultist leader Baltus Hafez, who had abandoned his two remaining men to die while he ran off; the pygmies leapt onto the men and stabbed them with daggers and spears, killing them both. Continuing their chase, they swung through the trees and had almost caught the adventurer Rick O'Connell and his son Alex, but before one could attack them, it was blown apart by a gun in Rick O'Connell's grip. The pygmies, however, outnumbered O'Connell and his friends as they pursued them through the oasis, separating Jonathan Carnahan, O'Connell's brother-in-law, from the group and into a clearing that Jonathan had suspected was used by the cannibals as a burial ground, a thought which he seemed sure of as he explained it to one last cultist survivor, Shafek. One of the pygmies had caught the two men standing within their burial ground and used its spear as a pole-vault to stab Shafek, killing him off, and frightening Jonathan so that caused him to shriek in fear, driving the pygmy off and allowing Jonathan to escape. The pygmies continued to chase off the O'Connell family, along with Jonathan and the Medjai warrior Ardeth Bay, to the point that they had reached a fallen log that the group had crossed like a bridge. Rick O'Connell, however, took the precaution of throwing a lit stick of dynamite at the cannibals, which they caught and fought over before it exploded, tearing the fallen log in two and casting the pygmies down into a canyon.
Later, as Hafez had escaped the pygmies' grip, he had reached the golden pyramid and put on the Bracelet of Anubis, which he inserted (along with his arm) into a statue in the wall, activating the pyramid and the Bracelet itself. Within the statue, however, were a handful of pygmies that tore the Bracelet from Hafez's arm, along with its' flesh. The pygmies had considered the pyramid to be their house of worship and had taken great insult at intruders.
Finally, the Scorpion King, whose actions in the past had spurred the growth of the Oasis of Ahm Shere, had been defeated in battle, being sent back to the Underworld, along with his army. As the Scorpion King was cast back to the Underworld, so too was the Oasis of Ahm Shere, which began to implode into the golden pyramid, taking the trees and plants, the corpses of those who had died within the Oasis, and finally, the pygmies along with it.
Behind the Scenes
The pygmies were generated with computer graphic imagery that was placed into live-action footage. To make it appear as if the victims of the pygmies were being killed, the actors portraying the victims were instructed to writhe about as if they were being stabbed, which would later be edited by the film crew, imposing the pygmies into the footage.