Sunday, May 07, 2006

"Quests" and The Da Vinci Code

The movie, The Da Vinci Code, is scheduled for release this May. The film covers many subjects also dicussed in this blog, or least the portions of this blog that cover the medieval period of history.

While The Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction by Dan Brown, it is based on historical claims made by the Frenchman Pierre Plantard.

Plantard asserted that the Merovingian dynasty of the Franks were descendents of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. According to his testimony, he was of Merovingian lineage himself, and a member of an organization called the Priory of Sion. The latter group linked with the medieval Knights Templar were pledged to protect the "Holy Grail," which he said was actually the Jesus/Mary Magdalene/Merovingian bloodline.

In this blog, we have dicussed aspects of the Holy Grail motif, the Knights Templars, etc. but with relation to the medieval history of the "Indies." Let's review the thesis presented here with regard to this subject matter.

First we presented Wilhelm Solheim's theory of the Nusantao, Malayo-Polynesian maritime traders who established an extensive trade network starting in Neolithic times. Chinese ethnologist Shun-Sheng Ling suggested that the people known in Chinese legendary histories ascribed to this period as Dong Yi were of Malayo-Polynesian ethnicity.

I have asserted that the medieval empires of Zabag (Sanfotsi) and Wakwak (Toupo) originated from the older Nusantao network, as represented in the derivative culture known as Sa-Huynh-Kalanay or in related cultures.

These two medieval trading empires based in Insular Southeast Asia established trade relations throughout eastern Asia and the Indian Ocean. The spice routes through which cinnamon, cloves, aloeswood and similar products were traded depended on Nusantao merchants and seafarers.

I claim that the Nusantao purposely approached political entities beyond their normal ports-of-call during medieval times.

In particular, the kingdom of Zabag was interested in protecting its trading interests against a tide of Islamic expansionism and against the competition of its ancient southern foe, Wakwak.

Zabag was ruled by a king known to Muslim writers as the Mihraj, and I have claimed that the same king was known among Tibetan Buddhists as Rigden and among European Christians as Prester John.

Among the native titles of this king were Pagbansagan and Apung Iru.

Those countries first approached by the king for political and military alliance were China, India and Tibet. In the latter nation, the kingdom of this monarch, known as Rigden, was called Shambhala, which I have connected with the geographical location of Sambal or Zambales on Luzon island, the Philippines.

Further abroad, news of the Caliphate's enemies in the Far West, also reached the Pagbansagan. He sent embassies to the Christian Byzantine and Frankish empires under the name of "Prester John" or Priest John. He was indeed a priest-king in a kingdom that was traditionally syncretic in religious belief even though it had its own spiritual agenda. Prester John's claim of being a "Christian" king should be viewed with this background in mind.

Prester John became known in Europe through his letters to the Pope and local royal families. He also became a character in the chivalric romances such as Parzival whom Wolfram von Eschenbach attributes to one Flegatanis through Kyot of Provence. Connected with these bardic legends are the themes of the Swan Knight and, even earlier, the Quinotaur, founder of the Merovingian dynasty.

Using his established presence in South India and Sri Lanka, Prester John may have utilized the network of Sayabiga established along the northern Persian Gulf shores to eventually make contacts with Christians in Palestine. I have shown how this probably occured via the communication and relationships that existed between the Knights Templar and the Assassins.

At the same time, contacts would have been facilitated through African spice trade linkages eventually entering Europe through North Africa probably via Spain.

Among the propaganda used to lure Europeans into Indian Ocean geopolitics were tales of Lost Eden and the Holy Grail. One of the best accounts of Prester John's interest in European alliances was given at the closing end of the Prester John era by Nicolo di Conti.

Paul Kekai Manansala