by Ernie Diaz
Perhaps you find the Internet’s bitter gift – the red pill, disillusionment – a little tough to swallow. Very well, take it in small nibbles. Start with the fact that no white man discovered America, not even those sea-savvy Vikings. It was the Chinese, more than four thousand years ago. And no, they weren’t dragging their knuckles across frozen land bridges, but sailing over with compasses and cosmological charts.
Mind-blowing? Only to those who have taken their history like most of us take our vitamins: mass-manufactured, sugar-coated, and 98% worthless. Meanwhile, we have brave souls willing to follow the evidence trail, no matter where it leads, much as Yu the Great sailed from China at the command of his Emperor to chart all under heaven, and re-establish the four directions. That’s the beauty of China. Even history so ancient as to embody myth has been documented. Yu’s Shan Hai Jing, the Book of Mountains and Seas, is the world’s oldest geography. And its most compelling chapter is that on Fu Sang, the land to the East, the Americas.
“Sure, sure, so some guy Yu wrote a book of fables that could be construed as referring to the New World.” Cynicism is a feeble weapon against disillusionment. Confucius himself, in Chapter 6 Verse 1 of the analects, tells us, “Truly straightforward was the historiographer Yu.” Yu said it, Kongzi. For Yu describes a land almost twenty thousand li, or ten thousand kilometers, away, and ten thousand li, or five thousand kilometers, across. The book also describes plants such as corn and tobacco, habits of aboriginal Americans, and geographical features that correspond so closely to those of Mexico and America’s west coast that you’d practically have to worship Fox News to call it coincidence.
Alright, so how did ancient Chinese mariners ever rime it all the way over to the US, millennia before GPS, coast guards, and Love Boats? The truth can easily be subsumed beneath the mountains of information that pile up higher with each passing year. But Edward Vining, a nineteenth century scholar, did meticulous research on the advanced sailing techniques of ancient peoples, including the Chinese, and published it in 1885, in a book called Inglorious Columbus.
Furthermore, he told of a great thermal ocean current, a sea road such as the Vikings made such skilled and gory use of. It originates in the equatorial regions of Southeast Asia, flows north along Japan, on up to pass south of the Aleutian Islands, then down again to the northwest coast of America, flowing southwards along the shores of Oregon and finally petering out around central California.
In 1962, the Long Beach Independent Press ran a story of three amateur sailors who made it from Yokohama to the Long Beach docks after a 57-day, non-stop trip. Skipper Joseph Pachernegg told reporters, “The trip was so easy, an old woman in a rocking chair could have done it.”
Certainly so could have the ancient Chinese, with their compasses and ruddered ships. Oh yes, and their maps. In 1973, Dr. Hendon Harris, Jr. published a book, “The Asiatic Fathers of America,” claiming that the ancient Chinese arrived to become patriarchs to many of America’s so-called aboriginals. The son of missionaries, Harris grew up in Taiwan, translation of the Shan Hai Jing his great avocation. But not until he discovered an old map, in an antique shop in Korea, of all places, did everything lock into place. The “Everything Under Heaven” map showed not only land masses roughly equaling the size and shape of Africa, Europe, and Australia, but also Fu Sang, the Americas.
Names on the map, their locations, and descriptions in both the Shan Hai Jing and the fifth century Liang Shu, cemented his conviction that Chinese much further from Columbus than he from us traveled and documented vast portions of the not-so-New World.
There was Equal to Heaven Mountain, matching the location and description of Mt. McKinley, the highest point in North America.
Chasm of the Bright Mountains must surely refer to the Grand Canyon, for nowhere else in the world are there mountains renowned for their luminescence yet beneath the earth’s surface, and 1500 li from Fu Sang’s west coast, at that.
White Lake at Cha Hill corresponds in location and description to Mexico City’s Lake Texcoco, five interconnected bodies of water, since drained and much reduced.
Then there were the accounts of monk Hui Shan, who journeyed extensively through Fu Sang in the 5th century, only to return to laughter and dismissal at the royal court, eight centuries before Marco Polo got the same treatment. His tales of “Decorated Head Country”, on the Yucatan Peninsula, must indeed have sounded fabulous to those who had never seen Maya nobles and warriors in their ultra-elaborate head gear. Ridiculous too, the tales of Women’s Country, the matrilineal Hopi tribes with their “snake husbands”, men who saw the serpent as both their progenitor and protector.
No doubt pseudo-skeptics, those who valiantly strive to stitch up the millions of rents in the fabric of our official mythologies, could and have had a field day poo-pooing such speculative, unscientific research. Lucky for them the concept of Chinese in America at least a millennium before Columbus, common on American curriculums in the early 20th century, was thrown down the memory hole after the advent of his national holiday in 1934.
Lucky for them also that solid scientific evidence isn’t nearly as important as media-directed attention in making things so. Big deal, so UCSD archaeologist James Moriarty discovered Chinese stone anchors off the coast of Palos Verdes, as reported in the November 25, 1979 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle. The anchors were encrusted with enough manganese to indicate they had been lying on the sea floor for at least 3,000 years.
If that seems old and suspect by its lack of coverage, how much more musty the following 1882 Canadian newspaper account?
“A few weeks ago a party of miners, who were running adrift in the bank on one of the creeks in the mining district of Cassiart made a remarkable find. At a depth of several feet the shovel of one of the party raised about thirty of the brass coins which were the type used for currency in China for many centuries. They were strung on what appeared to be an iron wire. This wire went to dust a few minutes after being exposed but the coins appeared as bright and new as when they left the Celestial mint. They have been brought to Victoria, and submitted to the inspection of intelligent Chinamen, who unite in pronouncing them to be upward of three thousand years old. They bear a date about twelve hundred years anterior to the birth of Christ.”
Ah well, if truth were common currency, there would be little to write about. We’ll save the Chinese roots of Native American tribes for your next nibble.