[q] Dairy culture

Koenraad Elst koenraad.elst at PANDORA.BE
Wed Jan 26 17:00:54 UTC 2000

Dairy products are rather foreign to China, being associated with the
northwestern barbarians.  I don't know if it has changed lately, but ten
years ago only a handful of shops in the Shanghai metropolis sold milk.
Most Chinese words pertaining to cattle domestication and other forms of
animal exploitation are of IE (Tocharian) origin: words for dog, honey, cow,
horse (ma < *mra, cfr. Eng. mare), milk.  There is a theory that the Yellow
Emperor, legendary founder of Chinese civilization, was of western origin,
"yellow" or fair-haired like the presumably Tocharian mummies found in
Xinjiang.  At any rate, fundamental culture items were imported from
Mesopotamia or Harappa, including the lunar mansion system, dragon and
tortoise motifs, the basic outline of the script (Portuguese scholar José
Calazans claims to have evidence of a Harappan connection for the Chinese
script), the "cire perdue" technique.

Transmission from Harappa or Mesopotamia to the Yellow River basin is but an
instance of a general pattern of transmission from hospîtable climates
advanced in agriculture and technology to more northern areas.  It must be
distinguished from an eventual transmission of rice cultivation and of
certain myths from SE Asia to India, which seems to be pre-Harappan.  Mythic
or other references to the Flood are at any rate a few thousands years older
in origin.

Kind regards,

Koenraad Elst


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