Looking at the different peoples of the world. This week: The Ianish

Called a living remnant of a bygone age, the Ianish are an often derided religious cult whose strict observance of antiquated customs and practises mean that they have to live cut off from the rest of the world, shunning what they see as “fancy new ideas” such as not beating up Catholics or people with brown skin.

With the men of the Ianish traditionally attired in old-fashioned bowler hats and brightly coloured sashes (although a small group within the society known as the Samish prefer to wear no clothes at all) and the woman all wearing long, uncut beards, the sect exist in tiny close-knit communities where they practise speaking their own peculiar dialogue and centring their lives around devotion to their departed founder, a fiery zealot whose mystical visions culminated in him seeing the Antichrist in the European Parliament in 1988.

Parodied and portrayed in popular culture the world over, with probably the best known depiction of them coming in the 1985 Harrison Ford-starring film ‘Witless’, the Ianish’s existence is based almost entirely on the dictates of said founder, whom the group believes to have been the Lord Prod Almighty. Most famous for the way they can raze barns and churches in double-quick time (although only if they belong to the opposing Roman Catholic faith) the Ianish are one of the great wonders of the present age: A group of people still untouched by modernity and living perpetually in what is to all intents and purposes the 17th century.