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8. Elements of Indo-European Culture in China
10. Midgaard - Mummies in the Sand

9. Midgaard - The Written Sources

In the ancient Icelandic script, "Edda" of Snorre Sturlason, in the part called "Gylfaginning", is told about the Earth: "Then Gangleri spoke:" "This is great news, I now hear. It is a great craftwork and cleverly done. How was the Earth conceived?"

Map of Tarim Basin
Map showing Tarim Basin.

Then Har answered: "She is ring-shaped on the outside, and all around her is the deep ocean, and along this sea-beach, they gave the land to settlements for the Jotuns, the Giants and their descents. But on the inside Earth they made a fortress around their homes against the hostility of the Jotuns, and as their castle, they had the eyebrows of the original Giant, Hrymer, and they called this castle Midgaard".

Tarim Basin in Xin Jiang or East Turkestan, as some call it, is a good candidate for Midgaard. It is surrounded by huge mountain ranges as high as the Alps, and it is shaped like an enormous eye. One can travel from Kashgar, the Western corner of the eye, along the northern Tian Shan Mountains, which route is the northern branch of the Silk Road. Or, one can travel along the southern Kunlun Mountains, the southern branch of the Silk Road, and both routes lead to the city of Dun Huang, the eastern eye corner. In the middle lies the fiery desert, Taklamakan.

Cave painting from Turfan
Cave painting from Turfan in the Xin Jiang province.

Even when you do not have a possibility to see the country from space, one can easily imagine, that it resembles a huge eye, the desert is the pupil and the coloured part of the eye, and the huge mountain ranges are the eyebrows.

If we believe, that the original Indo-European homeland, named "Asgaard" in the Scandinavian mythology, was located on the plains somewhere west of the Pamir Mountains, as many do, then the rainbow bridge "Bifrost" between "Asgaard" and "Midgaard" must have been located somewhere at a pass over the Pamir Mountains. It must be at a place, where the trail crosses a river with a strong current, which forms water droplets in the air and thus a constant rainbow.

The Hungarian-born, English explorer sire Aurel Stein (1862-1943) arrived in Dun Huang in northern Gansu for the first time at the beginning of the last century, about 1903. He found an old defence wall, which stretched from the foot of the mountains near Dun Huang to "Kara Hotho," "The Black Castle", near the current Mongolian border. He spent some days to explore it. It was built just at the beginning of the first millennium. It may be the castle, "they did around their homes against the hostility of the Jotuns".

Stein found the first mummies of caucasian type in Tarim Basinn Stein and his dog Dash, who followed him everywhere Sir Aurel Stein 1862-1943
Left: Stein found the first mummies of caucasian type in Tarim Basin.
Mid: Stein and his dog Dash, who followed him everywhere.
Right: Sir Aurel Stein 1862-1943.

We remember from the Edda, that the Aesirs undertook to build a wall around Asgaard, "to guard against "Jotuns and Frost-turser" (Giants and frost-trolls). But the Aesirs did not wholeheartedly support the project. Making the false promises of a marriage with the beautiful goodness Freja, they contracted a Jotun to undertake the work. Provided that he would finish in time, he would get the bride, they had promised. When he was likely to complete the work on time, they arranged, that his unique and indispensable workhorse run away in search of Loki, who had turned himself into a horny mare.

A Chinese document from the Han Dynasty, "Hou Han Shu", describes Central Asia west of China in the first few centuries AC. It sums up 36 kingdoms, most in the Tarim Basin and the rest of the present Chinese province Xin Jiang, but also some west of the Pamirs. The area was later divided into 55 kingdoms, it is told.

A two-thousand-year-old felt hat found in Tarim Basin
A two-thousand-year-old felt hat found in Tarim Basin.

Another Chinese source says, that there were 40 kingdoms. But probably none of the numbers are right, or to put it another way: There were eternal conflict and struggle between the kingdoms, some were defeated by their neighbours while others rebelled for independence, nothing was static.

"Hou Han Shu" tells, that the king of Suoche, who had the name Xian, wiped out several kingdoms, but after his death, they started fighting among themselves. Xiao, Yuan, Junggjue, Rong Lu and Qiemo were conquered by Shan Shan. Qule and Pishan were conquered by Yutian (Danish literacy "Jy-tian"). Yuli, Dan Huan (Danish literacy: "Dan Hwuan(g)"); it sounds like "Dan Vang", an ancient name for Denmark) and Guhu were wiped out by Ju-chi. The beleaguered small states sent deputations to the Han court and asked for Chinese military to protect them against their neighbouring states. But when they got tired of the Chinese, they rebelled against them and instead made treaties with the Xiong-Nu. But because the Xiong Nu charged too much in taxes, they returned to the Chinese. The joker in the political game was the northern Xiong-Nu, "The Northern Savages", hated by everyone, including the Southern Xiong-Nu.

The Swedish  explorer Sven Hedin
The Swedish explorer Sven Hedin.

The Han Dynasty Emperors had a very strong motivation for opening the route to the west. They needed horses for their wars against the Xiong Nu, who became known in the west as "the Huns".

The traditional Chinese horses were of very poor quality. But the horses they bought from the Yuezhi (Yuch Chi) people in the Fergana Valley were excellent, and they became the key to victory. They were the heavenly horses, the horses sweating blood. Maintaining the line for stable supplies of these horses were the main reason for their presence in the Tarim Basin. It is said, that this was the beginning of the Silk Road.

The kingdoms in "the Western Regions" converted to Buddhism very early and became Buddhist strongholds. After their conversion, they followed the Buddhist doctrine of not killing and not wage war. They believed in Buddhism with great inner strength and sincerity. The thousands of Buddhist cave paintings give evidence of their strong faith.

The Buddhist monk Fa-xian traveled through the oasis towns around 400 AC. He wrote: "Every kingdom has thousands of monks, and each kingdom spoke their own barbaric language."

sicians on camel - found in Tang Dynasty grave near Xian - The National Museum of Chinese History The french Explorer Pelliot between the old documents in the caves at Dun Huangs.
Left: Musicians on camel - found in the tomb of Xianyu Tinghui near Xian 1957- Tang Dynasty dated 723 AC. - The National Museum of Chinese History.
Right: The French Explorer Pelliot between the old documents in the caves at Dun Huang.

Musicians and dancers from the towns in the Tarim Basin were very famous at the Tang court in China. Se figure found in Tang Dynasty grave near Xian; some of the musicians have blond hair and beard. The Chinese-Japanese Silk Road Expedition was the first to travel into the area after its opening in 1980. They identified a dozen different stringed instruments on the Buddhist cave paintings. They thought that some were brought to Japan with Buddhism.

The early explorers Przhevalskii, Stein, Le Coq, Pelliot, Kozlov and others collected a lot of old documents, that had been preserved for more than thousand years in the extremely dry climate. Some were written in a hitherto unknown language, which is called Tocharian. It proved to be an Indo-language with similarities mainly to German and Celtic languages, it is said. It was found in two variants Tokharian A and B. We remember, that the Buddhist monk Fa-xian told, that "every city spoke their own barbaric language".

Tocharian can have been the general language of Midgaard, probably in many different variations and dialects. It could have been one of those languages, which was spoken by the Danes of the Aesirs descent until they learned the local Gothic language in Scandinavia.

The Dun Huang document rolls
Some of the Dun Huang document rolls.

The Buddhist monk Xuan-zang told about the city of Kucha in 645 AC: "The earth is good for rice and corn, they grow grapes, pears, and many kinds of peaches and almonds. The soil is rich in minerals, gold, copper, iron, lead and tin. The air is pleasant, and the people's attitude is honest. There are 100 monasteries with 5,000 or more disciples." The oasis towns appeared to be very rich, and they had thrown enormous resources into the religion. They must have seemed very tempting to the surrounding nomads.

One by one the Kingdoms in the Tarim Basin were taken over by the Tibetans and Chinese. Later came the Hepthalites, the White Huns, then came the Western Turks and the Liao Tatars. In the Middle Age came the Mongolian-Turkish armies led by Djengis Khan. The great Khan allowed the Turkish Uigurs to settle in the area. That is why they insist on calling it the "East Turkestan". Finally came the Chinese.

Girl from Xin Jiang with blue eyes
Girl from Xin Jiang with blue eyes.

But there is still a relatively high frequency of blue eyes and light hair in Xin Jiang, higher than in the rest of China. Often, when a television channel is broadcasting from there, the camera swings around and shows a little blond girl or boy.

In modern times we have witnessed the final end of another Buddhist State, Tibet, which was absorbed by China. Perhaps the Buddhist kingdoms in the ancient Midgaard have vanished in very much the same way. All resources were thrown into the religion. Each family sent a young man to the monasteries, whom society as a whole should support.

See John E. Hill's translation of the acient chinese document Hou Han Shu: "The Western Regions according to the Hou Han Shu" - Silk Road Seattle

See also John E. Hill's translation of another ancient chinese document: "The Peoples of the West" from "Weilue" - Silk Road Seattle

Både den Ældre og den Yngre Edda findes på engelsk: "Full text of the Elder Eddas - Internet Archives - search with "Gylfi"

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