In ancient mythology the Pygmies were a tribe of people of unusually short stature, living at the edges of the known world, south of Egypt. They were often depicted fighting their sworn enemies: the cranes which in winter invaded their land. They were often used with a parodic intent, performing mundane tasks or in more surreal circumstances, such as this example where the pygmy is shown carrying a grasshopper on his shoulders. For a similar example of a sardonyx intaglio in the Hermitage, see Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, La Collezione Glittica, vol. 2, 1995, p. 235, no. 200 or also see A. Furtwängler, Beschreibung der geschnittenen Steine im Antiquarium, Berlin, 1896, p. 239, no. 6520, pl. 45 or for another example of a Pygmy carrying a crane see p. 77, no. 1196, pl. 14.