miércoles, 27 de abril de 2016

The New Whites - Xianbei

Xianbei was a group of tribes, who lived on the Eastern Steppe, roughly described in the present Inner Mongolia reaching out in East and West. Here they had lived "always", or at least long before rise of written history.

The best known of the Xianbei peoples were the Xianbei-Tuoba tribe. They had their name after their sacred royal lineage, Tuoba. Following modern rules of pronunciation it must be pronounced something like "Tor-bar", and I think, it means the descendants after "Tor". (yes, & bar is an Aramaic word meaning son & Tor could also be the Israelite Law or Torah). 

In China's early history all the peoples onthe plains were labeled as "-rong", which means something like barbarians or natives. During the Qin dynasty (221 BC- 206BC) and early Han Dynasty, most of peoples of the steppe were categorized as Xiongnu. Only after collapse of the the Xiongnu federation the Xianbei tribes appeared in the history under their separate names.

                             Typical Xianbei art - Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Museum.

In the year 48AC the before so mighty Xiong federation split up into two groups, the southern and the northern Xiongnu. An officer of the Han court named Zang Gong suggested that China should take advantage of the situation, ally with Xianbei and attack Xiongnu; but Emperor Guang Wu-di rejected firmly further acts of war.

The chinese characters for Xianbei says "BaiLu", which literally means fresh new thieves. It cannot be a name that they called themselves. At the same time it sounds very much like "Xinbai", which means "new whites".

Modern Chinese humor runs very much on expressions, which sound like each other, but have different meanings. It must be something that the language's character invites. Maybe some witty heads back then named the new barbarians of the steppe "Fresh thieves", which also sounded as "New whites", a double meaning that they found interesting.

                 Bodisatva with blond hair and blue eyes from Dunhuang cave 57 -or is it a queen?

The "Xianbei" tribes are interesting for Danes, because both "Qi Dan" and "Dan-Xiang" (The Chinese prefer the alphabetizing "Dang-Xiang") claimed that they descended from "Xianbei", and both these people called themselves for something with "Dan".

Types from Mogave Caves at Dun Huang - the Northern Wei period. Some tough men, were they kings?

The Northern Wei empire was a migratory state, ruled by a branch of Xianbei people. Their sacred royal family was the Tuobas. They seem to have been the royal family superior to all others. The kings of Qi Dan as well of Dan(g) Xiang (Tangut) claimed both that they descended from Tuoba.

These kingdoms emerged several hundred years after the doom of the Northern Wei empire; here one can realy talk about "The return of the king". The Tuoba royal lineage must have had a simply enormous prestige.

Many nations' history-interested "make claim" on the Xianbei tribes. Chinese literature refers routinely to them as a typical Mongoloid people. Koreans have no doubt that the Xianbe was a Tungusic people, like they think about themselves. Turkish history enthusiasts call them often as a "proto-Turkish", "proto" as they have a timeline problem, all without existence of real arguments that support such claims. All parties label routinely the Xianbei's kings as khan, although this is a Turkish title, which was not invented before after several hundred years.
Xianbei ring.

But there are many indications that Xianbei was a non-Mongolian people with white skin and often with blond or reddish hair.

The debate on Xianbei's ethnic origin is a fierce debate with political overtones that have been going on for years. The idea that possible Indo-European peoples (Iranian speaking Israelites) have had their root within the borders of modern China is causing a very considerable emotional resistance.
Basicly the statements about Xianbei's respectively Mongolian or Tungusic origin are simply repeated many times, as it was a self evident truth, but with few and insignificant real evidence. Since it seems to be politically correct in both East and West, it has gradually won an image of truth.

Supporters of Xianbei's Mongolian origin bring forward to know that the Xianbei's descendants, the Qi-Dans, mobilized their troops in 6Smilitary units called "Ordo". Mongolian has a word with the same significance, "Ordu", for example in "The Golden Horde" and other of Genghis Khan's armies. The word is found in Danish and English as "Horde," but they think it comes from Mongolian. Therefore, since Xianbei's descendants used a word, which the Mongols also used, they must have been of Mongolian ethnic origin, the supporters of the theory conclude.

But this evidence is worth nothing, and it proves indeed the opposite.

                                                                   Xianbei cavalry

The Americans were the first to drill for oil offshore, they gave names to "derrick", "casing", "christmas tree" and "spot cans". "Their successors the British, Norwegians and Danes simply took over the terminology, which allready existed in the industry.

Warrior figure from Northern Dynasty Tomb - Unearthed in Cixian - he looks like a viking, who had lost his way, but however he is 500 years too early.

The Indo-Europeans were the first to develop mounted warfare on the steppe, and they developed the associated terminology. They invented the concept of "horde" originaly "orde" as the name for a military formation. When the Mongols and Turks much later took possesion af the steppe and picked up mounted warfare, they simply took over the terminology that already existed.

Danish is an ancient Indo-European language that still contains many words beginning with "or-", which denotes various military activities. Just try opening a Danish computer dictionary, type "or-" and see what comes up.

                   A blond steppe warrior displays his trained horse - cave painting from Dunhuang.

"Orlog" refers to naval warfare. "Orlov" is a leave from military units. An "Ordonans" is a military messenger. "Ordre" is a military command. "Orden" is the opposite of sloppiness and disorder, which typically must prevail in an army. "Orden" is also military decoration of honor. "Orke" is to perform strenuous efforts, as it is often the case in war.

The basic word "horde" or "orde" can be recognized in modern Danish in that meaning of "orden" as the word for an organization, such as a knightly order, the order of the Knights Templar, the Johanitter Knights order and so on. Such military designations are in relatively recent times replaced by terms such as "regiment", "arme" and "batallion" and therefore the meaning of horde has been degraded to describe a spontaneous, primitive and aggressive group.
Column Foundations from the Tuoba capital Luoyang with two dwarfs indicating each corner of the world.

Luoyang was the capital of Northern Wei, which was a Tuoba Xianbei state. Here is a pillar foundation with two dwarfs indicating each corner of the world. It brings one to think about the dwarf list in the Voelves Divination, verses 11-13 of the Elder Edda, where the dwarves Nordri and Sudri, Austr and Vestri, are named after the corners of the compass - or maybe it's the compass directions, which have been named after the dwarfs. The idea, that a dwarf should indicate a compass direction, is so unique that there must be a connection.

The arguments for Xianbei should be of Tungusic ethnic origin are equally unconvincing.

Some believe to have reconstructed a group of words from the now extinct Xianbei language, which shows that it belongs to the Tungusic language family.

Now, the fact is that everything passed on from Xianbei comes from Chinese sources, and Chinese characters say, as you well know, nothing about the pronunciation. It is hard to see how such a reconstruction has taken place. Xiabei's Tungusic origin is mentioned in many places as a matter of course, but nowhere gives any clue about the nature of such a reconstruction. It may not be something, which is particularly obvious or scientific.

The Dunhuang documents, P. 1283 (in Tibetan) tell of the Qi Dan people's language: "In the language they (Qi Dan) and Tuyuhun broadly could communicate with each other". So we can imagine that the two languages relate to each other such as Danish and Swedish. Tuyuhun was a branch of Murong Xianbei and Qi Dan descended from Tuoba Xianbei. This indicates that the Xianbei tribes of the migration age, living in general in present Inner Mongolia, mainly spoke the same language. The Xianbei peoples created Wei Dynasty and many other migratory states. Sui and Tang Dynasty originated from Xianbei peoples, who had accepted Chinese culture. Their language, whatever it was, must necessarily have had a markedly influence on the development of the Chinese language.

A strong man with big blue eyes, big nose and in general caucasian features - Sculpture from the caves at Dunhuang.

Now it is like this that strikingly many words in Danish and Chinese sound similar to each others having similar meanings.

This again indicates that some of the ancestors of modern Danes, perhaps the Aesirs, who came from Asia, had a common origin with the Xianbei tribes.

In "Han Shu" the scholar Yan Shigu (581-645) added a Comment on how the Wusun people looked like: "Wusun in the Western Areas are the same as the Rong people (old term for native tribes around China). Now a days, these "Hu" people have green eyes, red beard, their appearance is as bearded monkeys, and they are originally of this nature." ("Hu" means Caucasian features like deep set eyes, big nose, beard etc.).

Yan Shigu worked at the court of the first Tang ruler Li Shimi. He wrote commentary in both "Han Shu" and "Shi Ji". He lived in a very turbulent period. The dominant Xianbei State "Northern Wei" had been split into the Eastern Wei and Western Wei, who in turn evolved into the Northern Qi and Northern Zhou. The Northern Zhou proclaimed themselves as Sui Dynasty and claimed the power of the whole China. The new dynasty, however, quickly perished because of the peasant revolts and civil war. However on its ruins Li Shimi erected the famous Tang Dynasty on the political foundation of coalitions with the tribes on the steppe, especially with many Xianbei tribes and states.

Yan Shigu's comment is not only a statement about the distant Wusun people, it is also a statement about the "Hu" people who surrounded him. It was undoubtedly the always rivalizing Xianbei peoples, he had in mind, when he wrote: "Now a days, these "Hu" people have green eyes, red beard, their appearance is like bearded monkeys".

The document "Zhi Zhi Tong Jian" (it means "Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government) was presented to the Emperor during the Song Dynasty by Sima Guang (1019 - 1086). He had spent eighteen years composing it. Here is told a story that the Emperor of the Dynasty "Eastern Jin", Jin Ming Di (Sima Shao 323 to 326 AC) had yellow hair and beard, because his mother was a Xianbei. Once he unannounced went out to inspect his troops. However, because of the color of his hair, his soldiers believed, he was a Xianbei and chased him as an enemy.

Folk songs from back then sounded: "Huang tou Xianbei", which means: "Xianbei have yellow head."

How did the Xianbei Peoples look like?

                                              Statue in Luoyang with high sharp nose.  

Among the Xianbei peoples, and also at their descendants the Qi-Dans, women were quite equal with men. They rode horses and used bow and arrow just as good as men, an old poem says. Also during the following Tang Dynasty, women could do much the same as men. However, there were severe punishments for adultery as in olden Israel.

Small figure which represent a Xianbei soldier with deepset eyes and big nose. Treasures of ancient China Exhibition - Found in Jing County, Hebei Province, 1948.

It is known that the Tang Dynasty had a rather full woman ideal, and that women also played polo. Only during the following ethnic Chinese Song Dynasty developed the extremely slim ideal woman with elegant small feet.

In Tuoba Xianbei's old capital of Luoyang are a few statues with fairly high nose bridge among the statues and figures, which have been preserved to our time. Most of the other surviving figures are either of a neutral ethnic appearance or with a modern Asian look.

A fair haired Budda from cave no. 45 at Dunhuang- should we ques that it is a Xianbei type on is left side?

In the Dunhuang caves, the portraited characters have in general black hair. However, there are many with yellow and brown hairs especially on characters from the Wei, Sui and Tang Dynasties, who were strongly influenced by the Xianbei peoples.

It is not in question that the paint has chipped off or has become discolored thus creating hair, which is not black, as other paint nearby seem to be in good shape. However many of the characters with blond hair have marked modern Asian facial features, narrow eyes, low nose bridge, etc.

I think that some of the ancient artists in Dunhuang thought that yellow hair and white skin was nice, and they seemed also to like narrow eyes and small nose. So they created these really beautiful figures with both blond hair, white skin and modern Asian features.

Since the invasion from the steppe the mixture of genes has worked ceaselessly during fiteen hundred years, and now there is no longer so big difference between the Chinese, as there once were. But it is still such that one can walk on the street and learn that the Chinese actually are quite different. Many have completely white skin, others have slightly yellowish skin or olive colored, as it is said. Some have big eyes and other caucasian features, most have not.

"Buddha of the Future" in the cave no. 275 of Mogave at Dunhuang has a Western, almost Greek style. The statue was made during Northern Wei dynasty shortly after the invasion from the steppe.
Generally Xianbei seemed to have been some pretty broad types with round or square faces. They had big eyes and beard. It seems like they often had pretty big wide noses that others might have looked down on. Some of them seemed to have had a certain "Miss Piggy" style, which often is exaggerated especially on more tough and less sympathetic figures such as soldiers, grave guardians and the likes.

However jade carvings from the very early Shang Dynasty also show persons with big eyes and wide noses, so this miss Piggy characters are possible not typical Xianbei persons.

Maybe the character's appearance reflects the enormous political correctness that prevailed in the Northern Wei after 494 AC and presumably also in the following Eastern Wei Dynasty.

                    Northern Zhou. He has a very large head with big eyes, maybe he was a child.

 A Xianbei king, perhaps of Northern Zhou, has a large head with big eyes.

Just as Dan-Xiang (Tangut), the Sogdians and of course the Indians (the God Shiwa) Xianbei Tuoba knew the cosmic dance, the god's creative destruction. It is an Indo-European ide.

The cosmic dance is also found in Buddhism, as a god, trampling on an evil creature. The buddist god from Northern Wei has noble, a little narrow eyes, which were considered beautiful, while the man, he is trampling upon, has an apperance, which can be exaggerated Xianbei traits. Also the many tomb guardians, who are somewhat unsympathetic creatures, seems to have been equipped with exaggerated Xianbei traits, like for example big eyes and wide stubnose. A sort of political correctness in the same way as when bad guys in "James Bond" movies often are exaggerated "Aryan" types.

Two tomb guardian figures have a particularly frightening Miss Piggy style. Note their Scythian caps, an Indo-European traits.

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