Ancient Caucasians had tattoos, and a discussion of English tradition
The Daily Mail notes that a “Siberian princess” (“experts are divided on whether she was a royal or a revered folk tale narrator, a healer or a holy woman”) and two men buried with her have extensive tattoos on their arms and legs. This supposedly shows that people who get such tattoos today are getting “close to their ancestors” and that “nothing has really changed” in 2,500 years.
What an amazing advance that we can now freely imitate ancient nomadic pagans.
Except for the tattoos, these look like the famous Caucasian mummies of the Tarim Basin, but the story says these mummies were found in the Ukok Plateau. I don’t know how close those two areas are to each other.
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Also, in response to the Daily Mail’s idea that these tattooed ancient Caucasian people represent our tradition, and therefore tattoos today are consistent with our tradition, whiteness (as I said once) is not co-extensive with the West:
A bunch of white barbarians living in some huts on a hillside is not the West. The Germanic tribemen, before they organized into Christian nations, were not the West. The Germanic tribesmen’s ancestors, the original Indo-Europeans (wherever they actually lived) were not the West. The 4,000 year old Caucasian mummies of the Tarim Basin in Western China were not the West. Yes, they had many distinctive cultural qualities in common with other Caucasians who later formed the West, but their culture was not the West. Also, H.G. Wells’s mindless passive Eloi, though white, were obviously not the West.
Bruce B. writes:
“Britain” derives from the Brythonic Celtic language and means something like “Island of the tattooed.” So the Brits are regressing to their pagan past. One more reason to prefer “English,” “Scottish,” and “Welsh,” to “British.”
Another reason to prefer “English” is that it was as England that that country came into being (1) as a nation, and (2) as a Christian nation. As Bede tells it in his wonderful History of the English Church , it was in the process of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms being converted to Christianity in the seventh century and then becoming politically united that the “English nation” was born. He repeatedly uses the phrase “the English nation.” Prior to their adopting a common Christian faith, they were not a nation, but separate, warring kingdoms. It was Christianity that brought the English into existence as a people.
Thomas Bertonneau writes:
It’s synchronicity again! In discussing the West, you wrote to Bruce B.:
Another reason to prefer “English” is that it was as England that that country came into being (1) as a nation, and (2) as a Christian nation. As Bede tells it in his wonderful History of the English Church, it was in the process of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms being converted to Christianity in the seventh century and then becoming politically united that the “English nation” was born. He repeatedly uses the phrase “the English nation.” Prior to their adopting a common Christian faith, they were not a nation, but separate, warring kingdoms. It was Christianity that brought the English into existence as a people.
I happened to catch up with VFR and read that comment moments after posting an essay at The Orthosphere about T. S. Eliot’s little book Notes towards a Definition of Culture (1949). Here are two paragraphs from my essay, the quotations all being from Eliot:
“The development of culture and the development of religion … cannot be clearly isolated from each other,” Eliot writes. The tendency of Westerners to think of culture and religion as separate phenomena, Eliot argues, arises from the historical fact that the Western religion, Christianity, began as a small sect that existed for a long time in alienation from the host-society. In “the penetration of Graeco-Roman culture by the Christian Faith,” paganism simultaneously penetrated Christianity, endowing the new society with much of the old society’s developed and specialized culture. This would have included the philosophical discussion of God, the spirit, and first and last things, which produced an explicit Christian theology. When Eliot wonders “whether any culture could come into being, or maintain itself, without a religious basis,” he poses the question rhetorically. Knowing Arnold Toynbee’s Study quite well, Eliot also knows that religion supplies the first term for culture, society, and civilization. Elsewhere in the Notes Eliot acknowledges that, “no culture has appeared or developed except together with religion.”
Prompted by Eliot, I too have been thinking of the Christianization of the Anglo-Saxons, as related in Bede’s marvelous History of the English Church and People. By the way, I recommend that readers who know Eliot from the verse revisit his prose or make its acquaintance for the first time. Eliot’s prose is deceptive; it is conversational and studiously un-stylistic—but it is subtle and rich at the same time. He was a great diagnostician of our crisis.
The origins of the modern higher education confirm Eliot’s hypothesis: The University originates as a specifically religious—and specifically Catholic—institution in the medieval period, with the University of Bologna having the earliest charter (1008 AD). No one nowadays thinks of them in such a way, but the medieval institutions of higher learning represented a colossal, highly organized act of faith, precisely in Eliot’s sense of “religion.” The Gothic universities functioned explicitly as curators and transmitters of the West’s double heritage of Classical lore, not least the philosophical tradition, and Roman-Catholic Christianity. When Pope Gregory sent Bishop Augustine to Kent in 597 to re-evangelize the British Isles, he also sent along a small library to be the nucleus of renewed learning and civilization in the former Imperial province. Canterbury, where Augustine landed, became the spiritual and cultural center of Anglo-Saxon Christianity and of a renewed high culture in England. Most private colleges in the United States began as divinity schools and seminaries. These represented the last gasp perhaps of the original organizing spirit of Western higher education.
Alan M. writes:
The 2,500 year old tradition of wearing tattoos supports keeping with tradition because our ancestors were more enlightened than we.
But the 2,500 year old tradition of only having male/female marriage … supports changing traditions because our ancestors were ignorant haters.
I’m so confused! Can someone please give me a rule book for liberalism.
Sure. But we don’t need a book. A single sentence will do it: Whatever advances the destruction of our civilization is good.
So, some ancient Caucasians had extensive tattoos, and since extreme tattoos are part of a contemporary movement to transgress the norms of our society, our ancient heritage is good, and since tattoos are part of our heritage, they are good.
However, ancient Caucasians (and all Caucasians and all peoples prior to the last 20 years) did not have same-sex “marriage,” and since same-sex marriage is part of a movement to transgress the norms of our society, our entire heritage prior to the last 20 years is a heritage of hate and bigotry which denied the fundamental human right to love whom you want.
Alan M. writes:
This morning I sent you an e-mail with this reference to T.S. Eliot:
Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 14, 2012 12:47 PM | Send
As bad as the U.S. is, other places are still worse, and we have to work to do what we can to turn it around. T.S. Eliot said: “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.” I have hope (not optimism) that we can turn this culture around.
After I sent you the Eliot quote, I saw Thomas’s post at the Orthosphere mentioning Eliot and then saw his comment at your site.