Sunday, November 12, 2006
Memorial Day 2006 Weekend with Uyghur Friends
There were a few reasons for our visit. While Cindy met with some Tibetan friends and received teachings from wonderful Rinpoches, I had hoped to meet with the man that translated and published the Lost Continent of Mu" into the Uyghur language. Unfortunately, he was not present, but I do have a copy now. More on the Uyghur language version of the "Lost Continent of Mu" in another posting.
Another reason was to interview an Uyghur historian friend about his thoughts about the "Great Uighur Empire." The theory about the 'Great Uighur Empire' occupies a whole chapter of the 1931 "Children of Mu," by James Churchward. The 'Great Uighur Empire' (as referenced by James) predates the historical Uighur Empire and is identified as the "Primary / First' colonial empire of the Land of Mu. James also states that 'the history of the Uighurs is the history of the Aryan Race.' James uses a reference from a Tibetan monastery to indicate that the Naacals brought copies of the Sacred Inspired Writings to the Uighur capital some 70,000 years ago. So, some time prior to this, the Empire was started. He goes on to explain that the cataclysm that raised the mountains ended the Uighur Empire and separated the Uighur peoples. This cataclysm, as described in James' writings, roughly corresponds to the Biblical flood.
One element of his theories involves the origin of the Chinese people and reflects a philosophy some today may find repugnant. Using a stereotypical white superman (the Uighurs) and stereotypical brutish savage (the Mongols) as parents, the Chinese people were developed. In two paragraphs, James gathers the racial prejudices of the 1920s & 30s and denigrates entire races of people with a stroke of his pen. While these stereotypes may be acceptable for the popular culture of the late 19th and early 20th century, the truth as documented indicates a different picture of the Mongols. Of course, if you only read the Persian accounts of Genghis Khan, you might believe the stories. Apart from reading numerous Asian and Central Asian history books, my experiences with the Mongolian people has also been personal. I have seen no evidence that my Mongol friends were not equals or are somehow different - I find these theories as offensive as my friends would.
I have read about the historical Uighur Empire that existed in what is now known as Mongolia and eventually migrated to Central Asia. The history of Central Asia is the history of the Uighurs - the Uighur people are a distinct, vibrant cultural element of Central Asia. Whether you examine the role of Uighur scholars in Genghis Khan's court as administrators, peruse the artistic wonders of their architectural accomplishments involving the Buddhist, Christian or Islamic periods, or read translations of the numerous written works on medicine, history or just their humor, one cannot but realize the unique and vital contributions of the Uighur people to history. Currently, the majority of the Uyghur people live under the rule of the Chinese government. I would be remiss were I not to mention that this centuries-old culture is under attack - Uyghur language text books are banned from classrooms and book burnings have consumed thousands of books, just for being correct about history. Aside from the Chinese government propaganda that equates an Uyghur identity with terrorism, there is not truth in this stereotype either. I also know this from personal experience.
Now that I have painted a brief picture of James' theories versus what I have learned, it should be easy to see why I wanted to speak with my Uyghur historian friend. Due to contractual obligations and family safety, he was reluctant to be interviewed for a podcast or have his name mentioned. We did spend an evening together and talked about this subject. He said he also had a copy of the Uyghur language translation of "The Lost Continent of Mu" and had been conducting his own research into this topic. 'Erkin' is a methodical researcher with impeccable credentials - I expect his research to be the definitive answer when it is published.
So I am left with no further references from independent sources concerning James Churchward's claims about 'The Great Uighur Empire.' There is one article in one of James' scrapbooks that gives reference to Koslov but I was hoping to gather further sources. This theory was also studied by the father of the Turkish nation, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
To continue this study of the 'Great Uighur Empire,' I call on interested parties to send your ideas, comments, and references to a common location - open and available for viewing by everyone. Please add your comments below, or send your contribution to email@example.com - a new mailing list with an open subscription policy. If you have something to discuss or just want to read the results, please join here.