(This is a speculative research email to WL dated 29.4.2016 – about the possible origins, and cultural traits of the Hakka-Chinese people. This deals with possible ‘European’ and/or ‘Caucasian’ DNA influences or cultural links. This is part of a general investigation into Hakka origins that will also be developed to consider possible African influences in early China. Of course, I fully acknowledge that those mummies in Takla Makan that look Western might well be ‘Middle Eastern’ in origin.) ACW 28.4.2016
When I was in Turkey (in the late 1990’s) – I met Chinese Uighar people. My Hakka friend (from Hong Kong) immediately said that they did not look ‘Chinese’ (at this point I was also a little confused, as we had been told that there was a ‘Chinese restaurant’ in the area), The Uighar people explained that they were ‘Chinese’, but from a different area (Xinjiang) and that their Chinese restaurant served ‘Uighar’ food. These Uighar people (if memory serves me right) had dark complexions (that reminded me of many of my ‘Tamil’ friends in the UK), and had features that looked ‘East Indian’. It is interesting to consider that many East Indians share a common Y-DNA with many Europeans (R1A1) – despite the rather obvious historical, cultural, linguistic, and religious differences. This association did not arise with the Western colonial presence in India (although there was most definitely ‘mixing’ and ‘off-spring’ despite the official Western policy of ‘racism’, and control through division), but is a common Y-DNA connection dating much further back in evolutionary history. In other words, Western Y-DNA in India does not imply that Europeans founded Indian culture, or were responsible for its development – despite the distant Y-DNA connection. In fact, as you already know, Western civilisation, when compared to the Sumerian, Egyptian, Indian and Chinese, developed quite late, if its origins are taken from Ancient and Classical Greece. The Buddha ‘reformed’ Brahmanism in India (introducing ‘logic’ and ‘reason’ to the world) BEFORE Socrates was born! If anything, I suspect ‘Indian’ culture and thinking more than likely was the creative ‘spark’ that led to the great achievements of the Greek philosophers that we so much admire!
With regard to the Takla Makan mummies – the pictures look stunningly ‘European’. However, China has never released any DNA studies about them (as far as I know), but I once saw a Western documentary that suggested a group of Northern Europeans arrived in China around 2000 years ago. This narrative suggested that they mixed with local Chinese, and that their DNA and physical shape altered over-time, until their descendants looked completely ‘Chinese’ (probably over a 500 year period). This documentary then revealed that certain Western academics took (stole?) small hair samples from some of the mummies – and that consequently DNA tests were carried-out in Italy. The documentary was expecting a Northern European result – but this was not the case. It turned-out that the DNA (probably both ‘male’ and ‘female’) was from Central Asia and had no ‘Northern European’ connection. I think that the mummification process may well have ‘lightened’ the complexion of people (through desiccation) who probably looked more ‘Indian’ when alive. However, although there was no ‘direct’ connection with Europe, many of the Takla Makan mummies do possess what I would call ‘Caucasian’ features (as do many Indians). I would qualify this by stating that this casual observation has no suggestion of ‘Europeans’ or ‘European culture’ in early China – but only a phenotypal connection. These non-Chinese people did exist in China, and did ‘integrate’ into Chinese culture. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that these people may have been an ingredient in early Hakka cultural development.
A point I must clarify at this juncture, is that Europe had cultures before the rise of the Greco-Roman monolith (as you know) that now defines ‘Europe’. These indigenous entities (that constructed the many ancient stone circles and other structures throughout Europe) were collectively (and derogatorily) termed ‘Keltos’ (i.e. ‘non-Greek’) by the Greeks (and ‘Gaelic’ by the later Romans). This blanket term does not convey the apparent diversity, or ingenuity of these European peoples who probably existed as distinct but related ‘tribes’. I think that given the right circumstances, any group of human-beings can migrate anywhere if they need or have to do it. After-all, a small group of homo sapiens left Africa around 140,000 years ago, and eventually populated the entire planet! I mention this because there are three issues of Hakka identity that are curious to me, 1) recurrence of blond hair throughout Hakka-Chinese populations, 2) Hakka women are equal to Hakka men, 3) Hakka women never had ‘bound’ feet. Of course, all of this might have developed through purely local conditions within China – and I once read an old Western book that speculated (for reasons not entirely defined) that thousands of years ago, Chinese people may have possessed blond hair! Obviously, from a strictly ‘evolutionary’ perspective, all current physical characteristics have evolved from ‘different’ characteristics in the past, and that there is no reason to think that current manifestations will be the same in a thousand or ten thousand years’ time. As it stands, blond hair exists in Northern Europe and is believed to be an adaptation to a cold climate. There are cold areas in Northern China, and in the past (thousands of years ago) the climate was very different to today. The last ice-age did not end until around 10,000 years ago – and perhaps many people around the globe developed the adaptation of blond hair, or at least ‘light’ coloured hair. The question is how many non-Hakka people in China possess ‘gold’ hair? I would say that most of my Hakka-Chinese relatives possess blond hair to varying degrees – with one man whose hair has been ‘grey’ since young. If this adaptation did not develop in China, then where did it come from? If it did develop in China, then that is a ‘local’ explanation that excludes ‘blond’ foreigners coming into China. A point to consider is that most Europeans are not ‘blond’ and the nearer to China the European populations are, generally speaking the darker the hair. I have also found it interesting that within Celtic culture men and women were considered equal. It is interesting how it is that the Hakka retained this tradition (from whatever source) within a strictly patriarchal society. Of cause, Viking explorers possessed the blond hair (I think) but not the cultural traits of equality between men and women. Having said all this, I did read a very good book that stated that thousands of years ago (probably during the Shang Dynasty period) women may well have been dominant within Chinese society and that this changed to its exact opposite over-time. Again, this might mean that the Hakka are not ‘foreign’ at all, but simply retain a very old Chinese culture that they refused to change. Another issue that might need exploring is that many Chinese and African people share very similar phenotypal traits. As the statues of the Olmec culture are ‘African’ in nature, and considering some think these to be Shang Chinese in origin, has there been an early Africa-China connection? Did Ancient Africans sail around the globe?