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America and the East

When we look for early connections between America and the East, we find something that we just saw as a possible link between Egypt and America: pyramids! In China, several structures that can in fact only be identified as pyramids have long been hidden to the foreigners eye. The first and probably best known is the so called "White Pyramid", photographed by an american pilot somewhere in the forties:
Chinese White Pyramid

But that's only where it starts.

In order to show you some interesting facts, I need to make a short sidestep first.

Some years ago, a fascinating book appeared on the market: "The Mayan Prophecies" by Maurice M. Cotterell and Adrian Gilbert. To me, the most interesting part of this book is the explanation of Mr. Cotterell's findings concerning the "Lid of Palenque", a four and a half meter long slab of stone, covered with remarkable carvings.

 (this position contained an overhead image of the lid that had to be removed due to people who insist upon their copyright)

The lid covers the sarcophagus of the Mayan king Pacal inside the "Temple of Inscriptions", in the Maya city Palenque. The lid is not the only richly decorated piece of stone that the Maya left to us. What makes it different, is that many people feel intuitive, that it has a very special meaning. It seems to tell some important story.
Most Maya artwork shows very clear and understandable sceneries. Some, however, are more like a puzzle, with unattached things and symbols floating around. The lid is the most mysterious example of this category.
While some of the attempts to decipher the lid sound quite adventurous, Cotterell found something tangible: The lid holds "hidden" images, which appear, when a second, mirrored image of the lid is laid onto it. The lid itself holds also the information, how to align the two images. In the book, Cotterell explains in detail, how he did it with two copies of the image on transparent sheets.
The right picture shows an example of the mirrored top edge, where the earrings of the Maya become eyes of terrifying heads.
Well, the Maya (and the later cultures too) knew mirrors. They have been found on many excavation sites. They were made from obsidian. But they supposedly didn't had transparent sheets. Cotterell offers a interesting way out of this dilemma: Maybe, they could see and combine these mirrored views just inside their heads? Maybe, they had mental abilities, we no longer possess?

Mirrord top edge

Of course, this all could be imagination and wishful thinking. If there's anything to be seen at all with this "transparent sheet technique", it could be coincidence. After all, people tend to see things, where there is nothing. (Did you ever ask yourself, why we do that?)

Well, although Cotterell's detailed description of his theory already convinced me, I found yet another photograph pointing in that direction.

This picture was scanned from a thick photo book about the Maya. The author commented: "It is unknown, why the stela was carved in mirror writing." (emphasis added by me)

Mirror writing

A detailed view of the upper left corner shows, that it is really carved in mirror writing. The hieroglyphs are flipped horizontally. The "heads" inside a single glyph would normally face left.

Mirror writing detail

In case you might think somewhere had made a mistake:
No, it's not a mirrored photograph! On the lower right edge of the stela is a inventory number written onto the stone.

Catalog number

So, it seems, Cotterells ideas are not so crazy after all.
In his book "Supergods", he applies his technique also to the jade mask, that covered Pacal's facein his tomb (which was discovered in the fifties). (For details, I can only recommend the books itself -see this review of "The Mayan Prophecies" (new window) -, because I was unable to locate a website that deals with this matter)
Aside from the most interesting mirror images, this jade mask also holds the next clue to the "Eastern connection".

Jade

Jade is a very hard stone, that can have different colors. It is found in all shades of brown, from very pale to almost black, but most valued is the green type. In fact, the name Jade is used for two different types of stone: jadeite and nephrite. It has been used in America in particular by the Olmecs and the Maya, and it was also of great value in China and Japan on the other side of the globe. Cotterell claims, only one type of jade was native to Mexico, but both types had been used. If true, this could be a significant point. But I'm not qualified to go about this question. I'm more interested in the things they used it for.
Having these beautiful colors and hardness, it seems logical, that jade has been used to make precious, valuable objects in both regions. However, it seems not so logical, that Pacal's deathmask was actually found on his face, although today we would expect it that way. The usual part of the body to put a deathmask on, was the chest in American cultures. In China however, jade masks were put onto the face of the deceased. Sometimes they grew to whole "bodysuits", like this one on the left:

Chinese death mask

Pacals death mask

Jade bodysuit of prinsess Dou Wuan from Mancheng

Pacal's deathmask

Even more intriguing is another deathritual with jade involved: In China it was a custom, to place jade balls or beads (often shaped as a cicade) in the mouth and hands of the dead. As we can read in Cotterells book, the same was done to Pacal! And it wasn't a one-off, as this picture of a skull of a jaguar shows. He was found at an Aztec site.
Jaguarskull wth jade ball

That leads us to the next question: had the Americans contact with the Chinese? How could such a contact be established?
It's time to bring the Olmecs back into sight. If you examine olmec artifacts, only the giant heads look negroid. The smaller objects (often made from jade) show eastern looking features. Here's a small collection of these:

babyface 1

babyface 2

These three figures are of the "babyface" type, and have a more eastern look then one would expect in America. They, strangly, also make a bit of an appearance of mentally retarded people. This is not to offend the Olmecs but merely a thought, I stumbled over many times.
babyface 3

Jade mask #2
Two jade masks from around 900 BC

Jade mask #1

The Olmec wrester
This strange object is referred to as the "wrestler". Be honest to yourself: Would you expect this to be dug out in America? If it could speak, I think it would rather quote Confucius.

Now lets see that asian source...

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