Monday, January 03, 2005

The Return of the King

Many comparative mythologists have seen parallels between the Christ story and a host of ancient regional motifs.

In particular, the theme of the crucifixion and the resurrection strongly resembles the death and resurrection of Dumuzi (Tammuz). Even the cross is referred to as a tree, a reference that points towards Dumuzi's identity as the personification and lord of the tree of life.

I mentioned earlier my views that the upper and lower case letter "T" symbol, i.e., the cross, represents the tree of life and, at the same time, the home domain of the bird clan.

Church painting of Christ with bamboo scepter, Oaxaca, Mexico

In the painting above, the vegetative crown, loincloth, cape and bamboo scepter might, with some alterations, fit the garb of a Nusantao prince of Eden!

Christ is the son of a carpenter and befriends fisher folk. He fits the Fisher King archtype. The pastoral environment of the Old Testament gives way to one in the New Testament where we constantly encounter water, boats, nets, fish, etc.

Dumuzi, whose names indicate a close association with the waters of the Abzu, also is considered a shepherd. The Fisher King, the Shepherd King and the Sea King all share a link with nature. They are not divorced from the wild as in the more conventional royal court. Their native environment is linked with the town or even the village rather than the city.

In Sumerian literature, the bringing down of kingship from Heaven is described in terms of Inanna planting the cosmic tree upon a mountain. The cross on Mt. Zion would represent the same thing. The emblem of the bird clan would appear again later in the form of the Dove, the spirit that guides the church, i.e., the kingdom.

In Revelation, Christ or one of his angels returns on a white horse from the east just like Kalki of Hindu belief and the Tibetan savior-king Rigden Drakpo. The concept of the returning savior is an important one.

We see it in many cultures -- Lumauig among the Igorots, Lono among the Kanaka Maoli, Quetzalcoatl among the Toltecs.

The return of the savior is part of the cycle. His antithesis must also return. In the same way, the morning stars return to their stations at the end of the year.

Paul Kekai Manansala

The Ruler's Rod

The word "ruler" comes ultimately from Latin regula "a straight piece of wood," one of the rex-derived words.

Bamboo was used as an early measuring stick in Asia. The cane of this plant is divided into segments of relatively equal length similar to a ruler. If the measuring stick of the king originally was a carpenter's and/or navigator's tool, it eventually took on other meanings associated with royalty.

The rod became a symbol of justice as measured out equally by the king as judge. It could also symbolize the armies of the ruler as a weapon, or an instrument of punishment. The bamboo stick is still a popular weapon in some parts of Southeast Asia.

As an emblem of the ruler, it could symbolize the entire nation. A similar example would be the use of the phrase "the crown of France" at one time for the nation of France.

In the latter sense, it is interesting that the word bansa "nation" in western Malayo-Polynesian languages is linked with the word for "bamboo."

I have argued with Waruno Mahdi, Ross Clark and others on the Austronesian list who think bansa and related words were borrowed from Sanskrit. Here's how I recapped my own views on the subject in that forum:

* Indo-Aryans coming from Central Asia would not have known of
bamboo. Thus they either had to borrow a word or make one up. Monier-Williams who usually was passionate about finding IE sources for Sanskrit words could not find one for _vaMza_.

* A root from Austronesian is readily available in the form of b-(n)(t/s)-(ng) which could account for PPH *b-t-ng "bamboo" and PPH *b-ns- "bamboo flute." Similar types of transformations can be seen as in Tagalog lansa and lantong.

* The argument for a west to east borrowing would have been stronger if bansa/bangsa had additional meanings like bamboo or cane, which are in fact the primary meanings of _vaMza_ in Sanskrit. However, they lack the broad range of meanings found.

* The Austronesian words have been reconstructed by Dempwolff and Lopez. Also by Zorc and Charles in PPH which would be too early for a supposed late first millennium borrowing.

* Bansi/Bangsi is less likely for "flute" than bansa/bangsa or at least one should see both forms as in Sanskrit. Also, the specification "bamboo flute" indicates the term is more ancient.

* The evidence indicates that Sanskrit /v/ became /w/ in both Javanese and Malay. A good indication of this is the names of the gods which would have been among the first words borrowed from Sanskrit in both Javanese and Malay. The words showing a /v/ to /b/ change often display characteristics of NIA, where Sanskrit /v/ had already changed to NIA /b/.

* It can be easily demonstrated that the Philippine words have a change from PPH *ng (*N) and not from Malay /ng/.

A reed scepter was used by Mot, the god of the Canaanite underworld. There are those comparative mythologists who think this is related to the New Testament story of Christ receiving a reed, often thought of as bamboo, scepter.

In my next post, I will show how many motifs we have discussed appear in the story of Christ.

Paul Kekai Manansala