"original" Buddhists -- Brahuis?

Yaroslav V. Vassilkov yavass at YV1041.SPB.EDU
Thu Jun 4 18:13:38 UTC 1998

On 2 June 1998 Jaap Pranger wrote:

<An illustration of two stone structures in Brahui country,
<called 'Cheda pillars' by the author, is to be found in
<Henry W. Bellew's "From the Indus to the Tigris",
<London 1874, on page 56.

<The illustrated structures, although much smaller, look very similar
<to stupas.  Bellew: "They are erected to the memory of
<clansmen who have died without issue........"

<Could these be distant memories to a buddhist past ?

<Any clues/ opinions as to these structures ?

        As for their general FORM, Brahui "Cheda pillars" look very much like
constructions called by Mongols and related peoples "oboo" or "obon" - and
spread across vast territories in South Siberia, Mongolia and Tibet (mayby
even wider in mountainous regions of Central Asia). In the same way as "chedas",
oboo are "neatly built of loose stones closely set in a cylindrical form"
(Bellew). Oboos are smaller in height than chedas, they may reach 8-9, but never,
as far as I now,  12 feet. They are erected usually on mountain passes (where
travellers use to make some small offerings to them) and "on slight eminence on
the plain" (Bellew on "chedas") - hence probably an occasional meaning of
a "tumulus", "burial mound" (in Buryat-Mongol and Kalmyck). But the original
semantics of oboo seems to be connected with the cult of mountain-spirits.
Their origin may probably be referred to the same Neolithic culture of
Central Asian mountaineers which left in Sayan-Altai-Pamir-Hindukush mountain
belt petroglyphs of a specific style (studied, in particular, by K.Jettmar).
       But as for their FUNCTION (and some details of form, too), the "chedas"
certainly resemble stuupas, or, to be exact, the hypothetical proto-stuupas
made of stones (cairn-like, as opposed to earthen memorial or burial
constructions, like Vedic zmazaana or proto-stuupas excavated in the
beginning of this century at Lauriya, Bihar).
        The Brahui "chedas" can be explained, perhaps, as a result of the
convergence of the two areal traditions: a Central Asian and a South Asian
        Best wishes to all
                                        Yaroslav Vassilkov

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