A salamander is an amphibious creature, right? You know, sort of like a squidgy water lizard.
Well, salamanders also live in myth as a creature that is comfortable living in the heat of a fire. This myth appears to have originated with the damp-loving salamanders hiding in a nicely rotting log, only to make a hurried escape when that log was thrown onto a roaring fire.
Imagine the surprise that everyone would get from that unexpected fireside arrival. I am sure the salamander would be just as surprised as those huddled around the fire on a cold night!
Interestingly this article from 1906 is something of a double myth. A human seeming to have the ability to behave in the manner of a mythological creature, a human salamander.
Chamouni was a man from Russia who claimed to be incombustible. Hmmm…. That is a claim that is just asking to be tested to the bitter end, isn’t it?
Chamouni would reportedly encourage people to pour melted lead on his tongue and press their seal into it. He would also have visitors melt lead, or boil mercury, and drink it, apparently with relish. (I think we all know that the mercury drinking could have bought its own unpleasant end, without the one you already suspect is coming!)
Chamouni’s ‘grandest experiment’ was to enter an oven with a raw leg of mutton only exiting alongside the cooked joint. Yeah, you know where this is going, don’t you?
Clearly Chamouni’s superpower failed him one day, and he exited the oven as a pile of ash.
I wonder who was in charge of the knob on the oven? After all, the worst roast burning you could do in the average oven is only going to render the meat inedible, it won’t actually be a pile of ash in the bottom of the baking dish will it?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that the oven they were using was completely different from the one I cook my lamb roasts in. After all, if I could fit a grown man in my oven the Man would never set foot in the kitchen while I was cooking again…. Still, what on earth were they cooking in? Had they borrowed the oven from the local crematoria?!
Chamouni’s ashes were sent home to Mojaisk, Russia where a monument was reported to have been erected with a Latin inscription commemorating his fate. What do you think it said?
Chamouni, returned to his maker Half Baked?
Hee hee, I wonder if his urn was a cake tin?
lmao – nice one!
Hmm. It doesn’t say where he died does it? I’m thinking he faked his own death, escaped debtors, and escaped Russia.
You might be right. I found a reference to him relating to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum where they have the torso of a mannequin in an oven and i found a suggestion he was part of a travelling freak show. Maybe the shine came off the life of a travelling freak.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust….
I wonder if the oven had a lock on the door? 😉
One can only wonder…
Have to say I find it hard to believe the story that he made it through the mercury swallowing alive.
I agree. I bet the melted lead was a prop of some description, but the mercury… He probably really did drink it. I wonder how long his career was before the signs of toxicity made normal life impossible to maintain?
Wow, what a crazy story. I think Frivolous Monsters has got something there though—skeptical bunch we are.
As for the inscription: “He tried this at home”.
I like 😀
We are a skeptical bunch aren’t we?
I found myself wondering if his clothing was fireproof too. When he emerged from the oven after his tricks had they been burnt from his body or were they conveniently intact?
Drinking mercury though, wow. Boiling or not, that was not a good health choice!
credo quia impossibile est…
And, if you want to see a version of Chamouni you can either YouTube him or go to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! , in Florida http://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/3282332272/…”Chamouni, a circus sideshow exhibitionist of the 19th century, as part of his act would enter an oven with a raw leg of mutton and not come out until the meat was well cooked! Billed as “The Incombustible Man,” Chamouni frequently withstood temperatures between 250 degrees and 350 degrees Fahrenheit during his human roast act. (121 to 177 degrees Celsius)”.
I had no idea Ripley’s Believe It or Not! still existed. It is still at Surfers Paradise but doesn’t appear to feature Chamouni 😦
When I was doing this post and saw there was a YouTube clip I was thrilled, but the mannequin in the modern oven was not what I was hoping for! Still, it was good to see that there was more than just this one newspaper reference to him. I wonder what the trick was to exiting the oven with a cooked joint? I am assuming here that he really was just as combustible as the rest of us.
It probably won’t be a surprise when I tell you I always used to watch Ripley’s Believe it Or Not! when I was young. 😀
Oh yes… me too, and I have to admit years ago I visted both Ripleys on the Gold Coast and in Hollywood…
Remember all those amazing stories…. I can probably blame things like that, the Twilight Zone, the Muppets and Looney Tunes for the way my brain works now. 😀
If I was doing the tourist thing in Hollywood it would definitely be on my to-do list too. 🙂
Was the leg of lamb ashed as well? The thing that has me puzzled is the element of time. Now I know I like my lamb well cooked but even at medium rare it would have to be in that oven for at least 2 hours. What on earth were the spectators doing while they waited for the roast? Peeling potatoes?
I thought the same thing, it was hardly a crowd friendly act was it? Perhaps it was the origin of “Here’s one I prepared earlier.” 😉
lol – or maybe it was the precursor to the microwave?
You find the most fabulous stories!
Thank you! 😀 There are times when I just accidentally stumble across something and have to thank my lucky stars.