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In Hinduism, the Astomi (Sanskrit: अस्तोमि) are an ancient legendary race of mouthless people who feed only from the scent of aromatic plants.


Megasthenes places this race in India, near the source of the Ganges river. According to him, their bodies are rough and hairy, and they have no mouths. They do not eat food, but feed themselves by smelling.


When travelling they used to carry roots, flowers and apples to smell. They could die by smelling an unpleasant smell.


Sir John Mandeville tells

There is another isle that men call Pitan, men of this land till no land, for they eat nought, and they are small, but not so small as Pygmys. These men live with smell of wilde apples, and when they go far out of the countr, they bear apples with them, for anon, as they lose the savor of apples they dye.

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7. 26 (trans. Rackham) (Roman encyclopedia C1st A.D.) :

At the extreme boundary of India to the East, near the source of the Ganges, he [the Greek historian Megasthenes C4th B.C.] puts the Astomi tribe, that has no mouth and a body hairy all over; they dress in cottonwool and live only on the air they breath and the scent they inhale through their nostrils; they have no food or drink except the different odours of the roots and flowers and wild apples, which they carry with them on their longer journeys so as not to lack a supply of scent; he says they can easily be killed by a rather stronger odour than usual.


  • Pliny the Elder, Natural History - Latin Encyclopedia C1st A.D.