13. Xiongnu and the Wusun People
15. Who Were the Jaets?
Left: A sage from the Longmen grottoes in Luoyang. He has rather caucasian features.
Middle: A wise man from the Longmen grottoes in Luoyang. He has a round face and rather small eyes, shall we say he is a something in between a caucasian type and a modern Asian type.
Right: A sage from the Longmen grottoes in Luoyang. He is a caucasian type.
The wise men from the Northern Wei look pretty ordinary, they do not have specifically modern Asian features.
About the Name TuobaTuoba written in Chinese characters.
In Danish ears the word Tuoba sounds very much like Thor-far. "Thor" is the Scandinavian god of thunder, and "far" is the danish word for father. Therefore, I believe that Tuoba means "the descendants after Thor."
The literal meaning of the two Chinese characters in simplified Chinese, which say Tuoba are "extension" and "postscript" and it does not really make any sense. It is clear that these two characters have been chosen because they best describe the pronunciation of the word regardless of their literal meaning.
Tarzan written in Chines characters.
If one on Google Translate is trying to translate Tarzan, the king of the apes, from English to Chinese, you get two characters which really mean "Thai mountain", which is pronounced Taishan. (It is also a famous mountain in Shandong). If you ask then a chinese: "What is the name of the king of the Apes?" so maybe he will reply, "hmm - yes, we can read it here, let's see - I got it - he is called Taishan."
The characters chosen to describe the sound of a foreign word are frequently the best possible approximation and does not necessarily reproduce exactly the original pronunciation in the foreign language. So it must be that the word Tuoba represent the pronunciation of the Chinese characters, they have chosen to use, and the original pronunciation may have been slightly different.
According to the pin-yin system the Chinese word "Tuoba" is alphabetized as just "Tuoba", which pronounced after an danish understanding of the use of sounds will be something like [toår!-bah].
"O" is a closing sound in pin-yin, one can imagine that it is followed by a short "r". "uo" is pronounced as the vowel in the last part of the name of China - Zhong Guo. The exclamation point above shall symbolize the fourth tone, which is falling, a little like giving an order to the dog. The final "h" shall symbolize the second tone, which is rising, light and optimistic.
After the older Wade-Giles alphabetizing system Tuoba must be written "T'o-pa", but the pronunciation may, according to the nature of the case, be the same.
The name of a people or a family line is often a word, whose meaning has been lost in the mists of the past or a name of an original ancestor followed by something which means descendants, children, relatives or the like.
For example, ethnic Chinese call themselves Hua xia, meaning descendants of Hua, the Yellow Emperor. Skjoldungerne (The Shield Cubs) means the descendants of the child found lying on a shield. Gjukungerne (The Gjuk Cubs) means the descendants after Gjuki and so on.
"Father" is in Chinese called "ba [ba!]" (Falling tone). It is very close to the Danish "far" (father) and it may be difficult to hear the difference.
The final "ba [bah]" in Tuoba however is with rising tone.
But if you listen carefully, you can hear that the Danish "far" is also pronounced with a rising tone, at least on the island of Funen. It is only if one wants to blame the father something or warn him, that you can pronounce it with falling tone.
In Danish it is said of a sow that gives birth that it "farer" (at(to) fare). It is easy to imagine that this expression previously had been valid for humans, but as time passed by it has been devalued to the animal world.
Designations for persons coming from various islands and provinces with -far have been typical of several historic peoples of Europe, the Danes, Angles and Burgundians. In especialy older Danish a Sjællands-, Lolands-, Langelands-, Hallands-, Blekinge- or Gullands-far designates a persons originating from these locations - For the Angles a Lindis-far came from Lindis and a Burgundian called himself a Burgunda-far.
So a qualified guess about the meaning of "Tuoba" will be that it means the descendants from an original ancestor, "Thor".
The Chinese god of thunder has a hammer with a short handle, with which he produces the thunder.
Wei shu, the "Book of Wei", was written by Wei Shou 551 - 554 AC. Here he tells that the name "Tuoba" comes from that the Tuoba Xianbei people descended from "The Yellow Emperor", who is assumed to be the common ancestor of all Chinese.
Wei Shou lived during the Eastern Wei, who was that part of the split Northern Wei, who still held on to the hardboiled integration and kinesificerings policy, which was introduced in 494 AC. He used the Chinese royal name "Yuan", which replaced the imperial family's original name "Tuoba", including for the emperors before 494 AC, and thus he creates some confusion.
He only tells about the Emperors of Eastern Wei and do not mention of the rivals in the Western Wei, who had rejected the integration policy and returned to the traditional Xianbei culture.
Not to applaud the racial policy of the state must undoubtedly have been politically incorrect, and probably harmful to health. So he could not very well write that the Xianbei people have one ancestor and the Chinese have another, it would probably have been quite dangerous. Moreover, after more than half a century's intensively integration pressure, in an era where there were only a few books, maybe many could not remember the history of their people.
But he confirms that the name Tuoba contains a meaning of descenting from an original ancestor.
Moreover the writer of Wei Shu also disagrees with general Ran Min, who actually said that the Xianbei and Jie peoples were some half animal barbarians, who did not descend from the Yellow Emperor, as he did himself as a Chinese. (See elsewhere in this article)
Chinese NamesWhen reading translations of classic Chinese literature, such as "Weilue" and" Hou Han Shu", it is striking that every name sounds Chinese. Xiong-Nu, Qi-Dan Dan (g)-Xiang, Xianbei and the Qiang peoples all kings and generals appear to have Chinese-sounding names. Place names and the names of the peoples in the West themselves, mentioned in the classics, also sounds Chinese.
One sit back a bit with the feeling that East Asia's and China's history might have been an entirely internal Chinese-Corean development, only affected by some frontier episodes with Turks and Mongols.
It's also what the history enthusiasts in this part of the World claim so engaged. They are passionate supporters of the philosophy of history based on the "China is an island" concept, ie that the Middle Kingdom has evolved completely independently without any significant interaction with the rest of Eurasia.
But most likely, the chinese sounding names of the peoples in the west were names, given to them by the chinese, and the ancient barbarian kings and generals, who had contact with China, had both their own barbarian name and a Chinese name, which the Chinese could remember and pronounce. For example the Dan Xiang King "Weiming" had also a Chinese name "Li Yuanhao". (For deeper reflection "Wei Ming" means "mighty name" in Chinese, so it may also be a chinese label given to him).
The Chinese character for very big - wei da.
Once I was in China, I wanted to buy a carved stamp as a present for my son. My son's barbaric name is "Magnus", which is derived from latin and means "Great". I discussed with the woman in the shop, how we should express this with a Chinese character. We chose Mao Zhe Tung's epithet "Wei da", meaning "mighty big".
Now let us imagine that time has progressed some centuries. A historian has found an old book that is stamped with Hansen's son's barbaric name. He contacts an expert who is knowledgeable in the special simplified Chinese characters from the Mao dynasty, and asks him: "Tell me, what was Hansen's son's barbaric name?" The expert looks at the Chinese characters and says: "It's easy, his name was Wei Da".
Even if one tries to find some Chinese characters, whose pronunciation matches the barbarous name as good as possible and the meaning is ignored, it can not be avoided that a later alphabetizing will sound pretty Chinese.
Genes for blond hair and blue eyes do still excist on the eastern steppe.
Photos found on the Internet:
Left: Blonde little girl from Tuva, which is the Russian autonome area north of Mongolia.
Mid above: Fair haired little girl from Mongolia.
Mid below: Blonde little girl from Tuva near Mongolia.
Right: Kirgisian boy with blue eyes.
Read about the ruin city of Tongwan
Tongwancheng, the city of Southern Huns at Historian, Oriental Studies - Research Group on Hungarian Ancestral History
Try internet tourism in the Longmen caves in Luoyang at: Japanese Buddhist Statuary There are hundreds of excellent photos, it's like being there in person.
A thanks to China History Forum for information and inspiration.
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