Monday, March 03, 2008

PMP Quadripartite Social Structures

In 1980, Robert Blust, following Otto Dempwolff, suggested that the Proto-Malayo-Polynesian (PMP) reconstruction *rumaq meaning "house," also referred to descent groups in that early society. He further suggested that these descent groups were based on bilateral kinship and that the PMP term *datu originally applied to the leaders of the *rumaq descent groups. Over time according to this theory, *datu came to apply both to chiefs-kings and priests-shamans, or to leaders who combined both sacred and temporal functions.

Blust suggested that originally there was a form of dual organization based on an "upper half" or male datu and a "lower half" or female datu, although his conclusion was based on only two examples from Sulawesi and Ambon.

In the classic fashion of Austronesian recursive dualism, it is suggested that this dual system bisected into a sociopolitical structure based on four groups. Alkire and Fujimura, describing Micronesian organizational systems state:

The Micronesian world view, like that of many Austronesian speakers, emphasizes dualistic oppositions, quadripartite divisions and mid-points as loci of control and mediation...When more than two units occur, they frequently derive from earlier dualistic divisions that have been further subdivided into quadripartite units.

Van Wouden, in his study of Eastern Indonesian marriage practices, states:

Because both the patrilineal and the matrilineal clans form exogamous groups, pair by pair, a double two-phratry system is also entailed. The entire society is divided into four main classes.The consequent cooperation of the system is thus wholly identical with a simple four-class system with reciprocal affinal relationships. One belongs both to the matrilineal moiety x or y of the mother, and to the patrilineal moiety I or I1 of the father. Class XI stands in a relationship of reciprocal connubium with yII, and the children are xII or yI, which likewise are related to each other by reciprocal connubium. The first and third matrilineal or patrilineal generations belong to the same main class. The difference between this system and a genuine four-class system is constituted by the unilaterality of the affinal relationships between the clans and by the feature of same generation marriage.

Dempwolff had suggested PMP *suku "limb; quarter (quarter of a people= kin group)." Blust suggests that *suku was a quadripartite division of the "total society" in Proto-Malayo-Polynesian times. Fourfold social divisions have been described in detail among many groups in eastern Indonesia; among the Pasemah, Toba Batak and Minangkabau of Sumatra; among the Maranao of Mindanao; among the Tagalogs of Luzon; in Tonga; Fiji; Belau (Palau); Tikopia; Hawai'i; the Kiriwina Islands (Trobriand Islands) and other areas of the Austronesian domain. Blust asserts:

Perhaps most striking of all is the reference to a fourfold social grouping under the literal designation "four council halls"or "four houses" (= four lineages) in Western Malayo-Polynesian, Central Malayo-Polynesian, and Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages. Thus, in describing the semisacred Jangdipatuan, the highest traditional ruler of the Minangkabau, de Josselin de Jong (1951 :13) notes that we "should really speak of three Rulers, all belonging to the same House. The Jangdipatuan . . . was the Radjo Alum, 'King of the World'; he appears to have dealt with political affairs, and it is he whom officials of the Dutch East India Company used to designate as 'emperor of Minangkabau.' The other two members of the royal trio were the Radjo Adat, 'King of Custom,' and the Radjo Ibadat, 'King of Religion.' Important dignitaries in the royal entourage. . .were the Basa Ampe' Balai, the Great Men of the Four Council Halls. These four, whom we might designate as ministers . . . were not members of the royal family, but in all probability were prominent headmen of the nagari that formed their residences." (Blust, 1980: 218)

Using the designations for "four council halls" and "four houses" mentioned in the quote above, Blust reconstructs PMP *na xe(m)pat na balay "four houses."

Four Stones

From the island of Belau in western Micronesia, Richard J. Parmentier has studied local myths related to the founding of the quadripartite sociopolitical system there.

These myths revolve around the goddess Milad who, after the Great Deluge, gives birth to four children in the form of stones named in birth order Imiungs, Melekeok, Oreor and a daughter Imeliik, on the mountain Ngeroach. These stones were distributed to the four corners of the island and marked the major political districts.

These districts were ranked by precedence, the order of birth, with Imiungs having the highest rank. Interestingly, there is a lithic representation of Imiungs at Ngeroach called Imiungselbad (Imiungs Stone) consisting of two stones -- one a circular mortar-like stone with hollowed-out center, and a smaller round stone placed on the mortar's rim called Imiungseldui (Imiungs Title).

Parmentier mentions in his notes similar mortar stones found elsewhere in the Austronesian-speaking regions:

Imiungselbad is one of several mortarlike stones reported in Belau; similar stoned are widespread in Indonesia and Melanesia; see especially Kaudern 1938:8, fig. 3, and 25, fig. 16; Fox 1924:223. Risenfeld (1950:246) cites a stone from Maevo villatge in the New Hebrides which resembles Imiungselbad in that a second stone, corresonding to Imiungseldui, sits on top fo the larger mortar stone. Also, the symbolic unity of the female Imiungselbad and the male vertical pillar Ngartemellang, both located traditionally at the Orukei square, is echoed in a similar pair of stones found in Bali described by F. A. Liefrinck (in Swellengrebel 1960:28), and a pair found in an Ifugao village in northern Luzon (Christie 1961: plate 13). (Parmentier, 1987:163 n. 25)

Previously, I have suggested that the mortars known as lusung, lusong, lesong, etc. in the Philippines and Guam, and throughout much of Island Southeast Asia, were often used by certain Nusantao trading clans to symbolize a central volcanic axis mundi, according to my theory the dual volcanoes of Pinatubo and Arayat on Lusung (Luzon).

The island of Lusung-Luzon is thus named after these central cosmic volcanoes.

In the myths of the Bagobo goddess Mebuyan in Mindanao, southern Philippines, the deity sits on her rice mortar placed at the "center of the world." In some versions, this mortar is located on a "mound" which may represent the cosmic mountain or hill. The mortar begins to spin drilling a hole to the Underworld and the subterranean Black River, where Mebuyan becomes overlord of the dead.

Interestingly, in the Belau myths, at the mountain where Milad gives birth to her children, and from which she sends them to the four quarters, stands a massive 50 ft. high volcanic plug known as 'Milad's House' or 'Milad's Cave.' According to one version, Milad even throws one of her sons, Oreor, to his respective district. The thought of Milad in her volcanic house or cave throwing her sons/stones can conjure up imagery of a volcanic eruption.

Some of the Semang people of Malaysia believe in a giant stone pillar known as Batu Herem at the "center of the Earth" that reached to and supported the sky. The Batu Herem rested upon a dragon found at the source of the Perak River. According to Semang chants, there appeared to be an opening at the end of the Batu Herem that opened and closed.

The opening created by Mebuyan's mortar and the opening at the end of the Batu Herem could symbolize the volcanic crater, often believed to lead to the Underworld. The same symbolism might be found in the hollowed center of the symbolic mortar-like stones of Belau and elsewhere.

Four corners of the House

Parmentier describes the assigned seating according to rank, at one of the four corners of the Belau meetinghouse, of the four highest-ranking title holders .

In some Austronesian societies, the house is seen as a model of the cosmos and the four corners or four corner-posts of the house can represent the extent of the world. For example, among the Manobo of the southern Philippines, the Earth is supported by four posts. In the Philippines in general the pillars of the world are associated with the common name of the house post. In Hawai'i and among some Tahitian groups, the sky dome was supported by four pillars or poles. Belau society and political units were compared to the four corner posts of a house.

We find a situation similar to that described by Parmentier at Belau meetinghouses in the Wajo Bugis kingdom of South Sulawesi. During the inauguration of the Wajo Bugis Rajah, the king sits in the corner of the room assigned the highest precedence. Senior officials are seated in the other three corners advising the king to carry out the four pillars of Wajo administration, ade' covering ethics; bicara, the criminal and civil justice system; rapang dealing with kinship and political relationships; and wari', which classified and ordered society.

Concepts of the world divided into four parts are also found in the fixed wind compasses scattered widely throughout the Austronesian regions. The simplest type of this compass indicates the four cardinal directions named after the corresponding wind blowing from that direction. Using the principle of recursive dualism, these directions are further bisected resulting in wind compasses with eight, 16 and 32 directions. In nearly all cases each direction is named after the corresponding wind. In Madagascar, the name of the eight point wind compass translates to "corners of the Earth."

We've seen the notion that the earth or the sky is supported by pillars or posts, sometimes four in number matching the four piles of the classic Austronesian house. In Panay island in the central Philippines, the highest mountains are seen as pillars supporting the sky and are called hagiri sa kalibutan "pillars of the world." The ancient Chinese also viewed four pillars as supporting the sky in the northeast, southeast, northwest and southwest, a belief that apparently originates at least by the time of the Shang Dynasty. Later on, these pillars were viewed as four mountains and the number was eventually increased to eight supporting mountains.

In some cases, a central pillar is added and this usually takes on the highest order of precedence. Here we may find an effort to assign the concept of centrality to the highest order of rank. In the Philippines, were the world pillar concept is widespread the central pillar is often directly linked with the myth of the "navel of the sea."

In Belau, while the mortar-like Imiungselbad would represent the center, the island polity became divided into two sides, the "Sides of Heaven," represented by Imiungs brothers, Oreor and Melekeuk.

I have suggested previously that a major magnitude eruption at Pinatubo, located centrally along the Nusantao trade and communication routes of the time, was interpreted by certain trading clans as indicative of the primal location, the first cause, the highest mundane order of precedence. A rift developed between some of these trading clans resulting in a "war in heaven," and corresponding competition in the Nusantao merchant trade.

The dualistic ideology and the "news" of the new discovery was spread along the trade and communication routes by messengers of the different clan confederations. There was a major expansion of these routes during this time in different directions. In the areas of Southeast and East Asia, and the western part of the Indian Ocean, this expansion would correlate with the diffusion of Lungshanoid, Proto-Lungshanoid and Lungshanoid-like elements.

In many cases, the histories, traditional histories, mythologies, etc. distributed over wide areas by the Nusantao messengers give geographic directions to their claimed world center/axis mundi. These directions usually agree in general terms with each other, even if sometimes conflicting localization exists, and in some cases navigational indicators like zenith stars may give more precise coordinates. Even some of the legendary chronologies can agree rather closely with the archaeological hypotheses. For example, Chinese traditional dating of the influences brought by the maritime Dongyi people who inhabited the eastern province of Shandong, agree fairly well with early datings of Lungshanoid, Proto-Lungshanoid and other coastal evidence of Nusantao influence as interpreted, for example, by Wilhelm Solheim.

Across the Austronesian-speaking world, one repeatedly finds indigenous forms of political districts in which authority revolves around a central mountain. The centrality of this mountain is not so much geographical as based on sacred precedence. The leader in these districts is generally hereditary belonging to the traditionally oldest family associated with the mountain, and having priest-king type functions. When Hindu-Buddhist influences arrived in Southeast Asia, the older and newer views merged to produce the "King of the Mountain" and "Devaraja" type theater states and galactic polities.

Quadripartition in Art

We know that many cultures express their cosmologies, worldviews and philosophical concepts through their artistic forms. For example, the elemental philosophy of China is graphically represented by the bagua octogonal template. The Chinese yin-yang principle is expressed in the well-known Taijitu symbol.

Taijitu, the traditional symbol representing the forces of yin (dark) and yang (light). (Source: Wikipedia)

In Tantric art, many types of thought are symbolized in geometric forms. In the Austronesian domain, the meanings of many symbols are still retained in the indigenous textile and tattoo art forms, for example, the tree of life and the bird as a symbol of the soul.

Therefore, it could be useful to see if there are any artistic indicators of the concepts of quadripartition and duality in the proposed PMP and Malayo-Polynesian language regions during the times these languages likely dispersed.

Red-slipped and lime-impressed pottery provides probably the first example of symbols used by Nusantao peoples, who according to theory were largely composed of Malayo-Polynesian speakers. The earliest examples of this pottery date back to about the middle of the 6th millennium BCE from Balobok Rockshelter in the southern Philippines. These early examples possess as decoration only impressed circles that often filled with lime powder.

Later on, we find throughout much of Southeast Asia, and eventually extending out to the Marianas in western Micronesia, the use of triangular and dentate patterns and often triangles topped with circles or semicircles. In Luzon, Masbate, Sulawesi and the Marianas, we also see some rectangular designs. This type of decoration was found most commonly during the fourth and third millennia BCE.

Rectangular patterns could potentially represent the four corners of the Austronesian house that in turn modeled the four quadrants of the cosmos. The use of triangles together with circles might be related to dualistic thinking if we see the two geometric forms as opposites. Decorations of linked triangles or dentate patterns are still used by present-day folk artists who in Southeast Asia often use the word tumpal to describe the motif. According to many of these artists, tumpal represent mountains or hills.

If we accept the mountain explanation, then the triangles with circles or semicircles at their apex could possibly be seen as early forms of the primordial mountain or "mountain of fire" motif that I have suggested was a symbol of the cosmic volcanoes.

Types of early Southeast Asian and Pacific pottery designs. Note in the first three rows at the top examples of triangular patterns with circles or semicircles. The figure in the middle of the second row from the top could be seen as a fair representation of a volcanic eruption.

In the first figure of the second row of the graphic above, the triangles topped with semicircles might also be seen as types of the "Crescent Sun" motif displaying the upright "horns" of a Sun in near full eclipse by the Moon. The same Crescent Sun motif seems also to appear on Liangzhu Culture jades near the mouth of the Yangtze River in China.

Crescent sun-like motif on jade ring from Liangzhu Culture (3500 BCE-2250 BCE), bottom left; bird on cartouche and possible Crescent Sun on bi disc, right top and bottom, Liangzhu. Source: Wu Hung, "Bird Motifs in Eastern Yi Art."

Even the impressed, lime-filled circles on the earliest Nusantao-related wares could have some volcano symbolism. The impressed circles remind us of the hollowed out mortarlike stones of Belau and elsewhere in Austronesia. The Chamorro of Guam formerly carved out mortars from natural stone formations near rivers. And there is also the case of cupmarks carved into megaliths and natural rocks discussed here previously. The lime in the impressed circles using this hypothesis could then represent the ash from the volcanic crater that may have been associated with the whiteness ascribed to sacred locations like Svetadvipa and Penglai in Indian and Chinese classical literature respectively.

We first encounter rather clear examples of possible artistic representations of quadripartite thinking in the artifacts of the Sa-Huynh-Kalanay culture of Southeast Asia and the earlier Peinan culture of Taiwan, which appears to have strongly influenced the former. It was from Taiwan that most of the nephrite used by the Sa-Huynh-Kalanay culture originated.

Possibly as far back as 3000 BCE, the Peinan culture made nephrite earrings-pendants with four projections located at each quadrant. In the latter Sa-Huynh-Kalanay culture, one projection of the pendants known as lingling-o is omitted, possibly to prevent poking of the skin, but the three remaining projections retain a square angular relationship to each other.
Peinan proto-lingling-o ornaments, left, with four projections at right angles (Source: On the latter Sa-Huynh-Kalanay ornaments, which date back to about 2000 BCE, one of the projections -- probably the one facing the neck when used as an earring -- is omitted, but the others are still separated at quadrants (Source:

Another ornament associated with Sa-Huynh-Kalanay culture is the bicephalous pendant. We find that the Peinan culture may also have a prototype at least conceptually in pendants consisting of dual anthropomorphs side-by-side connected at the top of the heads by a zoomorph. In some examples, the zoomorph heads bear some slight resemblance to the zoomorphic heads of the Sa-Huynh-Kalanay bicephalous pendants.

Dual zoo-anthropomorphs from Peinan culture, Taiwan, left (Source:, and a bicephalous lingling-o as still traditionally made in present times by Igorot blacksmiths in Northern Luzon.

Although Sa-Huynh-Kalanay-like bicephalous ornaments are still made today by the Igorot peoples of the Philippines, I have not come across any connection between the double-heads and the pervasive Igorot dual classification system. The usual explanation is that the pendants are simply good luck charms or fertility charms, the latter view though possibly having some binary implications.

In Melanesia and Polynesia, double-headed carvings and figures are fairly common. The double-headed frigate bird image found on Easter Island is said to represent the Supreme God Makemake, a solar deity. Double-headed bird figures are also common in the Solomon Islands.

Among the Hawaiians, there was a belief that children could be sired by two different fathers and such progeny were known as po'olua "double-headed." In such cases, both fathers acknowledged the child resulting in a union of clans.

Austronesian Quadripartition and the Indian Varna System

In 1995, I wrote an article "Austric Influence in the Brahmana and Rishi Traditions," in which I examined the Austric contribution to the formation of the varna, or four caste system, and also to the linked brahmin and rishi (seer) traditions of India.

My view was that the varna system was mainly an indigenous development with major contributions from Dravidian and Austric societies rather than something brought in by Indo-European invaders, which is the more common position in Western scholarship.

The mainstream Western view is that the Aryan invaders or migrants into South Asia retained the Proto-Indo-European system of three classes, conceived by Georges Dumézil as consisting of clerics, warriors and husbandmen/agriculturalists. Upon arriving in India, they supposedly forced those aborigines who adopted their religious system into a fourth lower class known as Sudras. A strong racial component is evident in this theory with some asserting the Sudras were originally slaves and they were darker-skinned than the other three classes composed of the Aryan invaders. According to this theory, these four classes eventually evolved into the four varnas.

To support this theory, it is argued that the supposedly oldest parts of the Rgveda, considered the oldest literary work of India, do not mention the Sudra caste. Sudras though are mentioned in Purusa-sukta section of the book. Also, supporters of this view point out that the Sudras were not considered "twice-born" and worthy of pursuit of Brahman, a mana-like spiritual power or asset.

Here are a few of the main problems with this theory:

  • The Vedas, which supposedly cover the period of Aryan invasion/migration into India do not mention the mass conversion process of aborigines into Sudras or the conversion of the old Indo-European husbandman/agriculturalist class into, presumably, the Vaisya or merchant caste. Such a conversion process would have been messy to say the least. In comparison, latter works mention the adoption of foreigners like the Sakas and Cinas into the caste system.
  • According to present-day mainstream Western views, a relatively small number of Aryan speakers were involved in a migration and elite dominance scenario upon arriving in South Asia. However, how successful could a small number of people be in converting an entire indigenous population into slavery or servitude? More recent history shows that the process of caste assimilation involved introducing people into the brahmin system according to their position and rank in the previous society. Thus, we have Dravidian Brahmins and Dravidian Kshatriyas (warriors) and Yavana brahmins and Yavana Kshatriyas.
  • Neither genetic nor physical anthropology studies support ideas that the upper castes are composed of recent (post-Neolithic) migrants to India or that the Sudra caste is more aboriginal than the upper castes. As caste is determined by patrilineage, the genetic evidence suggests that upper castes consist overwhelmingly of Y chromosome types that have been in India long before the Neolithic. The only male haplogroups that show strong evidence of relatively recent arrival are J haplogroup and O haplogroup, neither of which appear linked with the theory of an Aryan invasion/migration into Northwest India. In most parts of India, forensic science can not reliably distinguish upper castes from sudra castes based on craniofacial or other physical anthropology techniques.
  • The most important aspects of the varna system are not reconstructible to the suggested Proto-Indo-European system.

Now let us turn to the theory of Austric influence. Austro-Asiatic culture shows evidence of dualism and it may be that both this worldview and that of the Austronesians ultimately originates from Austric social systems. However, I have not found anything written on quadripartite divisions in Austro-Asiatic society. It may be that such influence in India could have come directly from Austronesian speakers via the trade routes.

Varna in India and South Asia is a hierarchal social grouping loosely based on function and occupation. Another classification system known as jati really defines the occupational groupings in South Asia. Louis Dumont suggested that the caste system was based ultimately on a dualistic opposition of ritual purity vs. ritual impurity with the loss of purity resulting in the loss of mana. Now, the latter term mana may be appropriate for my argument as it is a word of Polynesian origin signifying in modern anthropology a sacred power, force, authority, essence, charisma, etc. that abides in a person or object.

A number of researchers have classified the Indian concepts of brahman and akasa as types or variations of mana. One increases or maintains brahman partly by maintaining ritual and sacred purity. The same relationship of purity and mana is found in many Austronesian societies. Taboos prevent certain types of defiling behavior especially with relation to intermarriage and any contact with objects or locations that cause loss of purity. The intermarriage taboo is natural because in both the Indian and Austronesian systems, mana is inherited.

Now, the caste system in India developed a complexity and severity well beyond that of Austronesian societies in general. For example, only rarely do we find outcastes and practices similar to untouchability in the Austronesian examples. Usually impurity was temporary as in the case of menstruation or contact with with dead bodies rather than permanent as with entire "unclean" castes. Austronesian speaking peoples often did have rank-based endogamous groups similar to varna, although the rigidity of these groups based on birth was usually much less severe.

Still marital endogamy and exogamy was a common characteristic of the quadripartite systems in both regions.

While the varnas were endogamous, within each varna were exogamous groups known as gotra. These gotras appear to have been originally totemic in nature and the word itself originally meant "cowpen," an interesting fact considering the totem-like taboo against harming and killing cows in Hindu society. The names of many gotra ancestors including most of the earliest and most important ones were names of animals, plants, fish or other objects. Although gotra ancestors were considered human in not a few cases we find that the actual animal, plant or other object indicated by the gotra ancestor's name was actually revered sometimes to include taboos against harming or killing. The gotras like totemic clans were exogamous and often showed other aspects of totemism like the existence of split totems. It has been suggested that the names of certain gotra ancestors that have meanings like "rabbit's ear" or "dog's tail" actually refer to split totems.

According to the Mahabharata (Santiparva: 296), there were, as with the varnas, originally only four gotras -- another sign of quadripartition. Other classical works mention eight gotras, and by the time of the Mahabharata both varnas and gotras had multiplied rampantly. It can be suggested that the original number was four and this was bisected into the eight gotras, prior to the wholesale division leading to the highly complex system of today with an estimated 3,000 castes and 25,000 subcastes. In North India, a practice prevails of avoiding marriage with four gotras involving close kin, which possibly could be a remnant of the original four gotras.

Tradition states that the varnas and gotras originate with the pantheistic deity Purusa. The four varnas of humanity are said to come from the four parts of the Purusa's body. The gotra ancestors known as Rishis are also said to originate from the Purusa although some traditions state that they combined to form the Purusa and others that they sacrificed the Purusa in creating the cosmos.

Earlier in this blog, the relationship between Purusa and the pantheistic cosmologies of Southeast Asia, South China and the Pacific were discussed. The latter examples include themes of the creation of the world using the body of the pantheistic deity. In some cases, we find evidence of quadripartition in these myths.

For example, in Java, Bali and Sulawesi, there is a belief that every person is born together with "four siblings" consisting of the amniotic fluid, blood, vernix caseosa and the afterbirth. According to Stephen C. Headley this belief is linked with a wider Austronesian theme linking four siblings with the primordial being and the first creation.

With the four siblings an Austronesian myth and polythetic classification are at work here. The classificatory siblingship used in western Austronesian is well attested through the central section of the archipelago and has resisted "Indianization" and Islamization. The anthropomorphic identification of parts of the world with parts of the body or of siblingship did not await the advent of Samkhya philosophy from India to be used in Java and Bali. All personhood is relational and the society is built out of such relationships and not individuals. One's body is not the innermost point in one's identity, for an invisible world inhabits it and has relationships from the oriented cosmos in which it moves.

In the Philippines, the pantheistic deity from which all things originate is in some cases considered a deity or personification of time. In this same region, we often find the generations of a clan are expressed in the form of a human body i.e. a representation of generational time. In most cases, five generations of a clan are likened to sequential parts of the human body with the waist sometimes representing the current generation. Also, the Proto-Austronesian words for "body," "year," and "season" may be related.

Body metaphors find wide use in the Austronesian sphere (emphasis added):

Body metaphors are also used widely for the imagery of social space in the Austronesian world. In highland Bali, for example, differently ranked members of the village council of elders are associated with specific body parts of sacrificial animals, which are divided among them to be consumed during the ritual meals. Indeed, some of the titles of elders are derived from body parts, especially from the divisions of the forelegs (Reuter 2002a, 2002b). The 'head' of domains is often associated with the most upstream inhabited locations at the source of river systems. Left and right body halves are often associated with ceremonial moieties or other forms of dual social categories. The four extremities of sacrificial animals, finally, tend to be associated with some form of fourfold division of space and society (see Mosko, this volume), which is also a common pattern within the region. (Reuter, 2006: 25)

Milad's story also has what may be remnants of pantheistic belief. Her four children/stones become the dominant villages of Belau's quadripartite society. Her afterbirth is also said to become a village, and Milad herself is said to have turned into a stone landmark.

Cross Cousin Marriage

While the North Indian practice of four gotras may be a relic of an original quadripartite system of exogamy, the current system prevents any marriage of close kin. In South India, where gotras are rampant we find, however, that cross cousin marriage is the rule even among the high brahmin caste. This has led some to suggest that the "Aryan" system restricted cousin marriage as compared to the aboriginal system. However, the literary data does not really support such a theory.

The Vedas are mostly silent about the subject but the little they say would suggest that cross marriage was accepted at that time. Arthur Maurice Hocart noted that a Rgvedic verse supported bilateral cross cousin marriage. The hymn was apparently so controversial that commentator Sayana skips over it, but Yaksa includes it in his commentary. The verse suggests that the mother's brother's daughter (matrilateral) and the father's sister son (patrilateral) as the "share" or "portion" for marriage. The use of the word "portion" as Hocart notes was also found in distant Fiji even seems to suggest prescriptive cross cousin marriage.

Now, we should note that Blust suggested that the Proto-Malayo-Polynesian quadripartite divisions arose out of a system of bilateral cross cousin marriage groups with reciprocal exchange!

Later on in India history, the genealogy of the Buddha (Prince Siddharta) suggests that among the Sakya people of his kingdom, cross cousin marriage was either prescriptive or preferred. In classical Hindu literature, we hear of cross cousin marriages -- Arjuna with Subhadra, Sahadeva with Vijaya, Pradyumna with Rukmavati -- indicating that while not particularly common the practice was still acceptable at the time, at least among the Pandava and Yadava clans.

All in all, I would have to say that the similarities between and the likely genesis of the quadripartite systems in the two regions deserve further study especially when linked together with other collaborative evidence.

Paul Kekai Manansala


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Mog said...


Very well done. I just was thinking of you this morning, after reading "Taliesin: last Celtic Shaman" by John and Caitlin Matthews. Actually was able to link up the shamanic "incubation" in ritual Celtic saunas, sweat lodge systems of native americans (Y-DNA Haplogroup R and Haplogroup Q are ancient cousins via P, a reminder), with the very well researched "Pedra Formosas" in Celtiberian spain.

First off the zoomorphic figurines of Taiwan, just couldn't help but be reminded of the designs of Guro masks of west Africa, as well as "Dogon" primordial couple...

And when meditating on the Quadrapartites, it is something that is in my photoarchive as well, from the

Egyptian Quaternity

To the Highland Sword Dance (possibly related to after battle dance after severing heads of enemy) which has kept an "apana mudra" hand sign, or waterbuffalo/bull sign.

To the clear mandala, sumeru like, quadrapartite of Ogham, related to Book of Ballymote of Ireland...

Now personally, and there is some getting into trouble about this, but the Bel-taine, and Bal, or Ba'al bonfire jumping, really and truly how far away is this from Bali or goddess offering fires (in Kali tantras, or Vajrayogini).

And I really think the proto-world language hypothesis points to East Central Khoisan with KAM being penis (or lingam, or Karma, or Kamma, or action) and SAM being word for female breasts.

As much as it is so very extremely cool that Arayat and Pinatubo and YOU have unlocked this mystery, it is really all around us, two mountains of Sumeru, or SHAMASH, are really SAM

or female breasts

they are everywhere

So really


or Shambala, is historically linked to fire offerings to SHE with the soft pillows (irregardless of color, class or creed).

The earliest oracle in Egypt was identified with Nekhbet, vulture goddess, white (moon, color of death too) whose main center of worship was a NECROPOLIS, and this African Khoisan SAM has continued, and is even in epithets of Shiva at the CREMATION GROUND, Shmashanavasin etc etc etc

So I really buy Eden in the East, and Man(men and women) of the East finally unlocking common denominators of humanity, but the truth is all around us.


Jiwa/Diwa (psyche - breath) Mutia (Pearl - Freedom)

Pearl divers were first one's to discover breathless state, Nirvikalpa Samadhi

Bows friend

Paul Kekai Manansala said...

Hi Bill, I've seen the Jakarta Legong performed live, and the famed Bali version on the tube.

Mog Rhod said...

Hi Paul,

Some friends and I have been meditating on recent history channel and discovery channel programs on "emergence", or how life began.

Of course the mystics have already intuited this, and the basic life structure my in fact have formed the earliest structures of society.

What I'm saying is that the BUILDING BLOCKS OF LIFE, or CHON (Carbon-Hydrogen-Oxygen-Nitrogen), and the more advanced expression in DNA, the FOUR base pairs...

As that dude Jesus said, kingdom of heaven within (Luke 17:20-21), eden (the cross of 4) is within. And of course the first advent of Yoga to the West was Yogananda on the heals of Sri Yukteswar's HOLY SCIENCE (i.e. science and religion are oen). How much further within can it be than CHON or four base pairs?


As above, so below
On earth, as it is in heaven

Mog Rhod said...

Emergence, biology again...and it's various expressions...

Basic material of life (CHON)

* Carbon - forms backbone of bio-molecules
* Hydrogen - part of carbon-bearing molecules, energy transfer
* Nitrogen - forms part of protein structure
* Oxygen - part of carbon-bearing molecules, energy transfer


It is also a bit odd, but in addition to Varna-SE Asian-Polynesian quadrapartite society structure (as above, so below)

was reflecting on...Lord of the Rings again...



jenny said...

Consider the re-creation (they posit no annihilation) story as told by the Brahma Kumaris. It is the most wonderful version I ever heard, and seems the kernel beneath fictional, legendary, mythical, religious, and fairytale desciptions of the world's transformation.

In the centre of the transformation process is Shiva the Truth. Shiva means the Mother/Father of all souls and the Benefactor. It also means the Point. Shiva, being incorporeal, is at one and the same time a symbolic, actual and subtle Truth. By subtle I mean understanding attained through the heart's experience.
The work of transforming the world - like a labrys, or snow angel movement, involves the simultaneous creation of the new (via Brahma), deconstruction of the old (via Shankar), and the sustenance of the existing (via Vishnu) - since in any reconstruction project it is advisable to cause as little disruption to the public as possible. These also seem to exist in the three modes of experience.

Brahmin souls are created through the mouth and are thus twice-born - being "born again", as well born in the usual way. The Brahmins then through huge effort become liberated in life. They recreate themselves through the process of mastery over their minds - like Zen Buddhists, or Sufis, and through inculcation of Shiva's qualities - through Remembrance - like saints, of any creed. The first part is like a Mahabharata war and the second part is like having Krishna - though it's God, not the first deity - in your chariot. They are then able to help souls of the world become likewise. They become heroes of the earth.

This time of transformation is also called the Ascent, because all human souls gradually self-actualize. Eventually the world gives birth to itself - all the facets of sorrow, shame, fear and suffering are left behind, and truth, self-mastery, beauty and purity remain. (The vibration of human souls influences matter constantly, and so matter too, is transformed.)

This new world, or golden age (heaven, paradise, Shangri-la, Eden, Behesht, etc.) is the first corner of the world. As time goes on and more souls come down from Nirvana (the Sweet Home of souls) to the earthly field of action, entropy ever so slowly erodes the pristine purity, truth, beauty and self-mastery of souls, matter too thus slowly decreases in its harmony with humanity, and the silver age is born. All souls on earth are now ever so slightly not full. Just a sliver into waning. Still there is true love, true peace, true abundance. It is still heaven. The souls that come down from the soul world now, into the second corner of the world call this time heaven.
All souls attain purity to go back Home by the end of the time of transformation, but souls born into the silver age were still battling with their old sanskars (personality traits) for most of the Time of Transformation and attained purity later than Satyug or Deity, souls whose karmas were able to be spent more altruistically. Thus these souls are known as Warrior caste.
Gradually more souls come down, the cycle still slowly turning, time gradually eroding the sweetness of existence here on the earthly plane, and Copper Age is born, the third corner of the world. Now all the souls of the world are searching for something they feel they've lost, except for the souls who are coming down into the world at this time. For them it is heaven. Souls whose home is here love following, and during the time of transformation are still in dependency to various negativities, the seed of which is not understanding that in essence human are souls, not bodies. Thus most interactions with their God (because they love God too) are transactions. They are known as Merchant clan.
Still, things are pretty good on earth for the main, though sorrow does exist and humanity does know it is lost. The prophets started coming in this Age of Devotion - each one bringing the vital message of the time, in the hope of transforming that part of the world for the better.
The corner of the world that is heaven for the shudras is the fourth corner, the Iron age. Other souls would be feeling quite estranged from the world by now, experiencing a lot of anguish, but for souls fresh from the soul world at this time it is heaven. Shudras are slaves to their bodies throughout the time of transformation, and achieve purity through quick successions of rebirth - they drive fast, eat fast, live fast and die fast during this time of transformation. Thus social conditioning in worlds of ascending purity as transformation proceeds would be their main means of transformation.
Bit by bit souls decline in their self-mastery and purity. Harmony and trust decreases, everything tarnishes easily, population starts overtaking the environment, and the world begins to suffer at human hands - we lose our understanding of the interconnectedness of all things.
It's the end of the iron age now, so this fast living and mass production is at its extreme. There are no souls left to come down. We are all here now, in post-modernism, past the end of the world as social philosophers call it. Yet no-one has completed the ascent to purity or returned home to the sweet world of souls. At the same time it's the pre-dawn of the golden age so the first inklings of spiritual purity are starting to sprout. It's a confluence now of the old world and the new world. This is the time of transformation now. The big show-down (like in Mordor) is just ahead; every soul is taking part in this - every soul is unique and has a tailor-made part to play. This leap time is like a once-upon-a-time, when all the myths of ourselves are made. We create ourselves and our part for the entire cycle in this magic time where a minute holds the same value as a year in any other corner. So this time of transformation is like the still centre of the four corners of the world, and also like the soul world, Nirvana, which is beyond time.

I hope you agree with me that this journey of us family of souls with our one hero-of-transformation parent, is worth hearing. We are all heroes and beautiful in our own way, whether by transforming ourselves or by living our life to the full. I hope you agree with me also that the essential journey of souls through the 4 corners of the world cycle adds richness to the understanding of all tales.