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The Greece-China Connection

The “Wild” Zulus and The “Civilized” West

A society yet without gods

  by Theresa Mitsopoulou

China, Greece, and the Zulus of Africa

It is a huge mistake to have been examining the history of humanity piecemeal, rather than as a whole.  There are no species within the human race, blood types are the same throughout.  That there is such variance in how people look today is due to differences in evolution, climatic conditions, and food.

It is generally believed that mankind first appeared in Africa, but it now seems the original appearance was actually in China. (This becomes evident if one studies my books and the thousands of pictures in them.)

The people who became the Zulus came to Africa from China.  Skin color requires only 20,000 years to evolve from white to black.  (The fur of the hare in Canada became white because of a long period of habitation in snowy terrain.)  When did they arrive in Africa?  Much earlier than we have ever dared believe: probably about 50,000 years ago, and probably when Africa and Asia were still largely connected, as there are no legends of ships in their culture. The Zulus had no horses, probably because this delicate animal, which, it seems, was at home in Mongolia, did not succeed in surviving the long journey to Africa.

When these people left the original cradle, man did not yet know the wheel, the pottery wheel (Zulu vessels were hand made), the plow, the loom and weaving, architecture, or shipbuilding.  And man had not yet conceived the concept of “God.” 

When the Zulus were discovered in modern times (when the Dutch and British colonized South Africa), Zulu culture was very much like that of early China and early Bronze Age Greece (about 3,000 B.C.): full of spirits, superstition, and witchcraft.  They venerated their ancestors and sacrificed animals to their spirits.  They knew of the melting of metals, of bellows for keeping fire alive, and of the hammer for working iron and making their redoubtable blades and axes.

For reasons we can easily surmise (such as hot climate, and isolation), they did not advance after this.  “The Zulu daily life of a hundred or a thousand years ago was very much what it is today,” states E. A. Ritter (1955), the biographer of Shaka, the king-creator of the Zulu nation. Their conservatism has proved to be invaluable, because it has helped us understand early stages of the history of man in general.

Zulu traditions and systems of government (Kings, Prime Ministers, Generals, etc.) connect them to the Chinese and Greek civilizations, the Old and New Testament, and to Jews, in very direct ways. Millions of people all over the world watched the documentary about Shaka and the Zulus (Harmony Gold, Inc., London 2000).But no one seems to have marked these important similarities until now.

From childhood (and the only thing that regularly angered my father),  I preferred the company of the girls my age who worked as house maids, to that of the wealthy daughters in our circle.  They seemed more mature, and I felt I had things to learn from them.  I didn’t feel superior to them, and enjoyed conversing with simpler people. 

It is this humility that moved me to dare to take the Zulus seriously, and compare them to the “subtlety” and “nobleness” of the famous Greek civilization As a child I had a very good memory, and what made an impression on me I was not to forget for the rest of my life.  Thus I had the boldness to correlate different and seemingly irrelevant things.

To look at a picture or a video just once is not enough to gather information, because the mind first catches only the most striking images.  Yet there is so much more to see.  I made the most important of my discoveries after examining the same pictures many times, and at length, rather than at first glance. (For example, the “eggs” on the heads of the Karyatids being like lotus buds; the arm-band of the King-priest [see photo] as well as the band on his forehead being like the bands worn by ancient Greeks; the folded arms of Shaka’s guards out of respect, like on the Greek idols whose folded arms have been interpreted as showing respect to a goddess.) 

I succeeded in making the correlations because, as my niece Theresa has said, I was “simply born to see these things.”  It is my hope that Unesco will show interest in these findings, as its role is to support, promote, and encourage research and new ideas, inde-pendent of religion and politics.  It does not further scholarship to keep copying the same, accepted information from others, only to publish it all together again in a new book.

China and the Zulus

Chinese headdresses, straw hats, and Brides

It is said that the beginning is half of everything, and I was inspired to write my first book, The Other Santorini,  by a gold headdress from Troy (ca. 2,500 B.C.) found by H. Schliemann, which was similar to those of Chinese Emperors. Years later, watching the documentary “Shaka Zulu,” I saw that he and female members of his family wore similar headdresses.  This made me think there was possibly a relationship between the Zulus and China. The royal Zulu ladies also wore straw hats that were identical to Chinese and ancient Greek ones.

“Zulu” means “heaven.”  Like the Chinese Emperor, Shaka (1787 – 1829) was called “Son of Heaven,” and he prayed for rain like the Chinese Emperor and King Minos of Crete; “by custom, he was required to make rain.”  Shaka would wash his hands before meals in a special earthen basin, and the Chinese Emperor in a lotus flower-shaped bowl, like the golden one of the Kypselids of Corinth (presently in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts).  A Zulu bride’s face would be covered like a Chinese bride’s, and a modern bride’s, today.  This common custom alone would be enough to correlate the Zulus and the Chinese.

Today, the traditional color worn by a bride in China is red (the color of joy), but originally was probably white, if we think of the Zulu bride who was decorated with white oxtails around the arm and the ankle. Zulu kings had many wives, like Chinese emperors, with the exception of Shaka, who did not marry because he was against marriage and having children himself.  All the same, he had a harem of 1,200 women, like the hundreds of concubines of Chinese emperors.

They did not practice castration (there were no eunuchs),  so Shaka chose the ugliest men to be guards of his harem; but in the eyes of the women who were starved for sex they looked like Apollo!  Despite the strict prohibition (the penalty was death) many made love to the guards.

Zulu men shaved their heads like the Chinese,except when they were in mourning – like the people of Crete today who grow beards for the rest of their lives to mourn a loss.  It was prohibited during mourning to wear ornaments, to wash the body, or to shave, and the penalty for disobeying this was also death.

The Zulus and the Old and New Testaments

I was astounded when I saw that Shaka, when he was to become King,  first rinsed his body with water,  then lathered with a paste of fat,  smeared his entire body with a red paste,  and finally, after application of native butter,  his body was resplendent “with a beautiful ruddy, silky gloss.”  (A Zulu bride was also anointed with sesame oil.)  My mind went immediately to King Solomon and to Jesus Christ in the Old and New Testaments: 

And Zadok the priest took a horn of oil out of the tabernacle and anointed Solomon (1 Kings 1, 39).
And the Lord told Elijah the prophet:
Go to Damascusand anoint Harael to be King of Syria. And Jehu the son of Ninshi shalt anoint to be King over Israel  (1 Kings 19, 15-16).

Messiah means “the anointed one” in Hebrew, as does the word Christ in Greek, and in the Greek Orthodox Church the priest puts oil on the heads of babies when they are baptized. 

Christ said to Simon: My head with oil thou didst not anoint    (Luke 7, 46).

Priests and prophets were anointed as well as kings. “As regards the king, it seems to have been a custom only among Jews, the anointment being a way of showing that a Jewish leader had received God’s personal help.”  Shaka was called “King of Kings,” as were Jesus Christ and Genghis Khan.  On the day of Shaka’s coronation as King of the Zulus, the spokesman of the Great King Dingiswayo asked  “is there anyone who does not agree?  If so, let him speak now or hereafter be silent.”  The same question is posed by a minister in Christian weddings: “ if there be anyone who opposes this union, let him speak now, or forever hold his peace.”

The Oath

The oath was practiced by the ancient Greeks, and the Hippocratic oath, sworn to by doctors even today, is world renowned  (“I swear by Apollo Physician and Aesclepius and Hygeia and Panacea…”).  In the court of Areopagus, litigants as well as their witnesses would take an oath. “I will not disgrace the sacred weapons” was the beginning of the oath sworn by an Athenian youth when receiving a spear and shield.  I also remember “the oath which swore to our father Abraham” from Luke 1, 73;  and that Christ told his disciples “do not swear at all”  because, it seems, during his time people abused their oaths, and as witnesses frequently did not speak the truth. “And Herod swore unto her, whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee….” (Mark  6, 29).  “But he began to curse and to swear saying…” (Mark  14, 71).

The Chinese today swear “by heaven” or “by their father and mother,” and in modern Greek there are expressions like “I swear by my life,”  “by what I hold most sacred,” and  “by the bones of my dead father.”  I was surprised to see that the strongest Zulu affirmative oath was also to swear “by the bones of my father.”

Zulus and Greek Idols with folded arms

The folded arms of Early Bronze Age (ca. 2,500 B.C.) Greek idols (naked marble statues) are world-renowned.  This position of respect was also known in China, but because nudity was completely prohibited very early, the folded arms were no longer discernible under their large sleeves, with the result that Greek art has monopolized this characteristic human attitude. Native Americans would also fold their arms in this way.  Monkeys sit with their arms folded, but I do not know if they imitate man, or if it was the other way around.  Primitive man was very close to nature, and would observe bird and animal behavior.  (Shaka told the story of how to trap a monkey: place a fruit or something shiny into a gourd with a narrow neck, and the monkey would reach in to get it. Once with hand in the gourd, greedy as he is, the monkey would not let go of the object, and so couldn’t take his hand out, and thus would be captured.)

During my research I often could not believe my eyes at the similarities I would find, and this is the case with Shaka’s personal guards.  In his presence they always stood with their arms folded on their stomachs.  Once, a contemporary king of Shaka’s – sentenced to death by his adversary – waited to be executed (according to the description by E. A. Ritter) “with his arms folded” (a sign of respect to the supreme power).

Snakes and trophies

Zulus shared the belief with the Chinese and the Greeks that ancestral spirits take corporal form in the shape of non-venomous snakes. The Greeks and Chinese believed they descended from Kekrops and Fuxi, who were half-man, half-snake.

The staff of the redoubtable witchSitagi,a Shamaness, had a snake coiled around it, like the snakes of the Caduces of Hermes and on Aesculapius’ staff, or the pastoral staff of Greek Orthodox Bishops.

And the Lord said unto Moses, what is that in thine hand? And he said a rod.  And the Lord said cast it on the ground and he casted it on the ground and it became a serpent.” (Exodus  4, 2-3).

Sitagi’s staff was crowned by the skull of an enemy king decapitated by her dreadful son. Behind her hutshe kept a “museum” of skulls, trophies of killed kings and princes.  And inside the Erechtheion on the Acropolis spoils and trophies were kept, reminding Athenians of their victories and forever humiliating their enemies.

At first the Zulus were a small clan, Shaka disposed of only 350 warriors.  But after six years their number grew to 40,000, and today the descendants of Shaka number 9 million, forming the largest ethnic group in South Africa.  As the orator Isocrates wrote, “we consider a Greek anyone who shares our culture,” Shaka proclaimed  “anyone who joins the Zulu army becomes a Zulu.” 

Zulu and Greek shields and the Pyrrhic Dance

The Zulu shield had an oval shape, which shape has survived only with the Pyrrhic dance in Greek art.  The shield was long, to cover the warrior “from the mouth to the toes,” and Shaka had a boy carry his behind him to the battlefield, as Athenian citizens had slaves  carry their shields.  A Spartan preferred to die rather than drop his shield and flee;  a Zulu would cover his back with it in retreat, or just drop it and run away.

In the Pyrrhic dance the shield was small and light;  such a “toy shield” was apparently held by a bride of Shaka’s father for the dance after their wedding.

On his first appearance as king in 1816, Shaka was holding an oval ceremonial ox-hide shield four feet long and snow-white in color, tempered by a single black spot.  “The shields of cadets (16 –19 years old) were wholly black, and those of juniors had a little white.  The more experienced were given shields with increasing white markings and, finally, the veterans carried pure white ones with, at the most, a tiny spot of black.” The smiths of Shaka were busy, providing uniform-colored shields for the different regiments.

As a herd boy of sixteen Shaka acquired eight hunting spears and a small shield of black cow-hide (16 inches long, and 12 inches wide). The regiment of virgins (created by Shaka) was equipped with small shields.  In an initiation ceremony with a burning fire, a Zulu boy, naked up to this point (puberty), would be given a front apron to hang from his waist (to hide an accidental erection) and later a second one to cover his buttocks.  In that ceremony he would also be given a spear and shield, exactly like the Athenian youth.

In Taiwan today the little boys of an aboriginal tribe dance a traditional dance half naked, wearing only short trousers and holding wooden shields.  And in inner Mongolia child-wrestlers fight half naked.  Also a drum would sound to start a dance, as well as to start battle.

The Greek Pyrrhic dance was danced by heroes – a hero was considered someone who excelled in battle, in the hunting of wild animals, and in singing and dancing. In Greek the word pyrrhic is related to fire, and it is interesting that a fire would burn as part of Zulu initiation ceremonies. It is probable that after the ceremony the boy-heroes would dance a war-dance for the first time, holding shields.

According to one version, the goddess Athena invented and was the first to dance the Pyrrhic dance, to celebrate the victory of the gods over the giants who represented the dark and evil forces of nature.  The Greek dancers were naked,  like the Zulu boys, and held small oval shields horizontally, as Zulu dancers hold them even today (it seems holding it horizontally kept the shield from obstructing the dancer’s legs).

The Pyrrhic dance was a war dance for celebrating victories, and in Greece the dancers were divided into two groups: defenders and attackers.  Their quick movements were aimed at not giving the enemy a “firm target.”

The Zulus were also divided into two groups, one moving from right to left and the other from left to right, like the movement of a snake. A “snake dance” is danced today by the Puyuma aborigines of Taiwan to celebrate the New Year. As they dance in a circle half of them go from left to right, and the other half seems to go in the opposite direction.

The Native American Hopis also dance a snake dance.

The short skirts and arm-rings of the Zulus are similar to those of ballet dancers today, whose skirts and wrist-bands are made of tulle.  This implies that dancing in general began as a war dance.  The Zulu warriors’ skirts were made of ox and gray-blue monkey tails and strips of leather, while those of the maidens were made of fig-tree leaves, bringing to mind Eve’s fig-leaf.  Daughters of headmen and of wealthy families had skirts of multi-colored expensive beads which they traded with the Arabs, often for cattle.

Shaka and the Elders

It is known that in certain parts of Africa it was customary to kill, cook, and eat the old people in order to inherit their wisdom and knowledge. E. A Ritter is very accurate, and his information about the Zulus most valuable, but I think he did not pay enough attention to the fact that Shaka, although born a general and very intelligent (he has been compared to Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon), also consulted a great deal with the Elders of his clan, and learned everything from them. The Native Americans also governed themselves with Elders in this way.

Shaka expressed the idea that he and King George IV of England should establish a committee of Elders  to work out a way for Black and White people to live together in harmony and peace.

Once, when seven-eighths of the sun was eclipsed and the Zulus feared they might perish, Shaka told them “I have heard the old people say it has happened before.”

Moreover, when Shaka abolished the wearing of sandals by his soldiers in order to give them superior speed, he had probably not thought of this himself, but had heard it from the old people. (The Greeks also fought barefoot, to be able to run faster, as sandals impeded the movements of a warrior.)

Zulu ox-hide sandals had four straps; but originally they wore the “sayonara”-type sandal (what we call thongs or “flip-flops” – with a strap between the first big and second toes, attached to either side), worn today on beaches everywhere, and in Japan.  In ancient times they were common in Egypt; and in the Acropolis Museum the only one of the 16 Athenian Kore (statue of girl) whose lower legs are still preserved wears this the kind of sandal.

Shaka and Miltiades

Most likely Shaka did not invent all his strategies for winning battles himself, but learned them from the old people’s stories.  Once, to win a battle in which the enemy was much more numerous than his army, he applied the same strategy Athenian general Miltiades had used against the Persians at Marathon.  Miltiades strengthened the wings of his troops and left the center weaker with only a few ranks (the two wings had eight rows of men each, and the center only three). Thus when the wings came together, the Persians who had penetrated the center were encircled.  Shaka placed twenty men in the center in four groups of five, and in each wing two groups of fifteen of his swiftest and best soldiers.  When the two wings met, all the enemy that had advanced into the center were taken prisoner.

Was Miltiades’ Marathon plan original, or had it been learned from stories from the past?  Miltiades had spent many years in Thrace, and had served with the Persians against the Skyths. Perhaps he had learned this and other strategies then. 

Military secrets were traditionally handed down from father to son, like the secrets of masons.  The Propylaea of the Acropolis is similar to the main entrance of the Forbidden City in Tiananmen Square in Peking, and the number of gates is the same: five (an odd number, as the central gate on each was bigger).  In the end they may have both copied a common earlier pattern, and although the Propylaea predate the Forbidden City, it is very likely that the architect Mnesicles did not himself devise the plan for the Propylaea, but rather copied it from a scroll.

The Spartan King Leonidas and Shaka 

When Leonidas of Sparta was told to surrender at Thermopylae and to send Xerxes his soldiers’ weapons, he gave the famous answer: “Come and get them.” When Shaka’s father died, an enemy King reminded Shaka that, as his father’s heir, he was obliged to send him the three selected Zulu maidens that his father had promised.  Shaka’s answer was: “Come and get them”!  Had Shaka learned this expression from the Elders?  Had this been in use in other instances in the past as a response to arrogant demands?

Leonidas intended to defend the pass of Thermopylae with 300 Spartans, and thus save Greece from the Persians.  Is it coincidence that God said to Gideon “You will defeat the Medianites with 300 people”? (Judges 7, 7).

In 1828 when facing his executioners, Shaka said “You too, my children?” echoing Julius Caesar’s words to his adopted son Brutus, thousands of years later. Did such sayings get passed on, from mouth to mouth, generation to generation?

Zulu, Chinese, and Greek Festivals

When the Persian fleet left Samos for Attica (490 B.C.) the Athenians, aware of the eminent danger, sent a messenger to Sparta to request help.  However, the new moon was only nine days old, and Spartan law did not allow their soldiers to leave Spartan territory until after the full moon.  A full moon occurs on the fourteenth night after a new moon. 

At that time the Spartans were celebrating the Karneia,  a festival of war-like character (held every four years) in honor of Apollo.  This lasted nine days during the full moon of August, and during this festival naked youths (gymnopaidiai) helped the priests in their sacrifice of the animals.

When the full moon was over, 2,000 Spartans (accompanied by 2,000 “mat-boys” (who carried the sleeping mats, etc.) marched hurriedly to Athens, but when they arrived three days later the battle had already taken place (September 12, 490 B.C.), and the glory of the victory belonged to the Athenians alone.

Here we get an idea of how the phases of the moon influenced the lives of the Greeks.

The Chinese Lunar Calendar was also based on the moon. Every year the Chinese “New Year Festival,” or “Spring Festival” is on a different day (between January 20th and February 21st); it falls on the day after the first full moon following the Winter Solstice (December 21st).  Similar to the Chinese “New Year/Spring Festival,” the Greek Orthodox Easter also does not take place on a fixed date, as it too follows the Lunar Calendar.  Every year it falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon after March 21st (the Spring Equinox).

Catholic Easter is usually on a different day because the Catholic Church adopted the Solar, or Gregorian Calendar (the two Easters fall on the same day once every five years).

The Moslems (Ramazan and Bairam) also hold holiday celebrations in relation to the Lunar Calendar.  In Egypt a similar festival was celebrated around March 21st,  and Jewish Passover also takes place on the first full moon after March 21st.

Every Jewish family had to sacrifice a lamb, which they then roasted on a spit.  Whatever was left after they ate had to be burned, because it was not allowed for that meat to be eaten the following day.

I was most surprised to see that, according to Ritter’s book,  “all Zulu festivals were held only at the full of the moon. “Three days before the full moon [italics mine] the biggest black bull was chased for an hour round and round. Then the whole regiment hurled itself on the animal with bare hands. Some of them were hurt but the rest of them got a grip on the bull, whenever they could and threw it to the ground. Then raising the horns as levers they twisted its neck till the spinal cord was broken….  The bull was then roasted and bits of the meat were thrown into the air, and each warrior had to catch a piece and eat it. Whatever remained of the bull was completely incinerated and the ashes buried.”

The Easter lamb is similarly roasted on a spit in Greece.

To become King, a Zulu prince had to kill a bull with his bare hands. He was then recognized as a hero and could lead the victory dance. Anyone who killed a dangerous snake (such as a black mamba), an elephant, a lion, or a leopard was also regarded as a hero.  The head of a snake or a leopard or an enemy would be crushed with heavy clubs (like that of Hercules).

To hold festivals during a full moon was very reasonable, because nights weren’t dark when illuminated by the moonlight. It seems the August full moon is the brightest and most beautiful, and this is when the Greeks chose to hold their major festival: the games in Olympia.  The Olympic Games took place every 5th year (after 4 complete years) at the first, or more often the second full moon after the Summer Solstice (June 21st) between the end of July and the beginning of September, and lasted five days. Every two years the festival at Isthmia was also held during the full moon at the end of August or beginning of September.

The Great Panathenaea, held every four years (not in the same year as the Olympic festival, but with a difference of two years), lasted nine days, and it seems this Athenian festival was also held during a full moon (end of July, beginning of September), like the Karneia in Sparta. It is probable that all Greek festivals were held during full moons.

The Zulu first fruit festival (little Umkosi) was held every year; until then no one was permitted to eat any of the agricultural produce. This festival was held during the full moon near our Christmas, and the Great Umkosi took place during the next full moon.  In Greece the first ripe fruits and wheat of the year (aparchae) were brought in and dedicated to the gods. Only then were the people allowed to eat themselves!

The Zulus used to tell time by the moon: “Shaka returned on the third day of the new moon.”  “At the new moon after the little Umkosi the regiment began to hoe Shaka’s garden.”  Shaka’s soldiers once complained that “they had been through a woman-famine for many moons.”  “Shaka was told of a Great White civilization which had established its advance posts many moons’ journey to the South...”.  In a Western [film] a Native American refers to a three-moon journey” (one moon = 28 days).

Military tactics and turquoise-blue

Like the Spartans, Zulus were full-time soldiers. And like the Spartans, each had a young boy with him to carry provisions, a mat, and the heavier items.  Shaka trained his soldiers hard, himself.

“The Royal Salute was shouted. The Zulu regiment gave one thunderous stamp with the right foot to show their approval…”.

“…perfecting the system of rapid transmission of orders from the commander to the ranks, the pause for one deep breath and then the simultaneous right foot crash which was the signal for executing the order.”

“The rhythmic stamping of 10,000 feet made the Earth shake – an ominous display of power…”.

Today, militaries all over the world stamp their right foot when saluting, as do the Evzons (the ex-royal Greek guard, in their traditional costume which includes leather shoes with a tassel that shakes when they stamp). 

Many Shaka warriors had turquoise-blue circles painted on their chests, sharing a universal belief that this color had the power to avert evil. It would protect Chinese children, whose partially shaved heads were painted blue, as were the teenagers on the Santorini frescoes. The blue scarab protected the Pharaohs, the turquoise stone the Native American, and the blue paint on the faces of Breton and Scotch warriors. While the blue “eye” (shape and color) always meant protection, everywhere, and Kings are referred to as “blue-blooded.”

Doors and windows are painted turquoise-blue to shut out evil, and entire houses have blue walls or blue bands around them, from China and India and the Arab countries, to France (Camarque), Spain (Mancha), and Mexico (“senefas”).

The Zulus made extensive use of beads (like the Native Americans) – multicolored, but mainly blue – for their headbands, belts, necklaces, and chestbands (one or two bands, in the form of an X, or many narrow ones, all with symbolic patterns).

As sentries they held a spear (with both hands, one above the other along the center of the body) as the Chinese held a sword.

Tatoos and painted geometric marks on the face, body, and houses  

All over Africa faces and bodies were tattooed or painted with patterns symbolizing snakes (stripes to indicate the boa, scales for the viper, diamonds for the rattle-snake, etc.), offering protection to the individual.  From the diamond (rhombus) a triangle was derived when cut in two vertically, and a zigzag when cut in two horizontally. “Metops and triglyphs” symbolized the coral snake and the Elaphe scalaris (ladder snake), from China, the Amazon, the Americas, Egypt, and Bronze and Iron Age Greece, and by the Australian Aborigines, showing what a strong memory original man had. 

On the huts in Zulu villages, and inside on wooden columns, painted symbolic patterns were interwoven, like on nomad tents in Tibet, on the teepees of Native Americans, and on early representations of houses in Greece.  Snakes were coiled in relief on Zulu columns, like on Chinese dragon columns.

The Zulus lived in a circle of beehive-shaped straw huts with a semicircular doorway.  In the center of the hut there was a somewhat oval, slightly sunken hearth (like in the palaces of Mycenai and Pylos), in which there was always a fire burning.

Inside the men sat on the right, and the women and children on the left, like it is done in the Greek Orthodox Church, in some places, even today.

The circle of huts had a fence around them, and in the center there was a smaller fenced circle in which the cattle were kept.  

Buffalohorns and grain barns

One of the most impressive Zulu head-dresses worn by generals and officials and made,  I believe, of a thin leaf of brass, reminded me of buffalo horns because of its shape. 

Buffalo hunting was most dangerous, but also most rewarding; killing a buffalo made one a hero. In many parts of the world hunters would do a victory dance afterwards, wearing the horns on their heads. In southwestern China it is believed by the Miao even today that buffalo horns bring luck and have the power to ward off evil. In Guizhou young girls and brides wear horns made of silver on their heads, and these people also use horns to decorate the prows of their ships. Hunters in China and Tibet hang them outside their doors, and Zulu villages had thousands mounted on poles. They were also mounted on poles by Aborigines in Australia, as well as by the Ifugaos of Luson island in the Philippines.

Necklaces out of buffalo teeth were made by the Zulus and the Native Americans.

The fact that Zulus wore head-dresses made to look like buffalo horns as they did in Giuzhou betrays their country of origin, and the specific area where this custom originated.

Zulu barns strengthen this supposition. The film “Shaka Zulu” brought my attention to small structures for storing grain that were on wooden stilts on the outskirts of the villages.  They reminded me very much of a structure I had seen in a photo in one of the hundreds of Chinese periodicals I had glanced through, but I couldn’t remember what the structure was – was it also a barn for grain?  When I found the photo in China Today (July 1995),  I couldn’t believe it! Yes, it was a barn on stilts, made of bamboo and used for storing grain and other valuables: “a common structure on the outskirts of villages of the Yao people in the provinces of Hunan, Giuzhou, and Yunnan.”There is no doubt it was the same type of barn, because of its unusual shape, and it’s almost identical use. The photo was once again from the Guizhou area, further proof of which part of China the Zulus originally came from.  

Hunting of leopards, lions, and elephants

The leopard was hunted because it was extremely dangerous to the Zulus’ domestic animals, such as cattle and sheep, and because of its beautiful fur. They used the fur as a coat to be worn over the shoulders, to sit on, and as a mattress at night.  “All leopard skins were the prerequisite of Royalty.”  Even a strip of leopard skin was enough to indicate royal descent. The patterns on leopard skin are similar to those of certain snakes; crowns and headbands were also made of otter skin (water-snake), which had been stuffed.

It is again a most surprising similarity that aboriginal tribes in Taiwan today wear the same kind of crown made of leopard and otter skins.

The elephant was hunted because it destroyed crops, and because of its tusks (both male and female African elephants have tusks), for making necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.   Shaka possessed two ceremonial axes with ivory handles, like Chinese Imperial axes.

On either side of a skull on poles, the Zulus would hang tusks to make it look like an elephant’s head. This look could provide an explanation for Apollo’s “long hair” in the Museum of Delphi, and the “bands” on either side of the faces of Chinese gods and emperors.

The largest and most invincible animal was the elephant.  The Chinese and the Native Americans had the custom of naming people after birds and animals (bear, horse, lion, eagle). Similarly, Shaka was called “the big elephant,” and his mother Nandi “the big female elephant.”

The Zulus would hang tails of ox and of monkeys around the neck, waist, arms, and legs.  But it seems to me they also hung hair from lions’ manes – it was blond in color, soft, and shiny like “angel’s hair,” and like the hair of the “Golden Fleece.”

Like in China, a Zulu woman could not ascend the throne (in Hawaii there was a queen), and Shaka’s father’s sister once said to him “you are the king and not me, only because of this thing you have between your legs.”

The Zulu dance and the ballet

Dancing in general originally began as a war-dance, to celebrate a victory.  A drum would sound to begin the dance (like the beginning of a battle). After the victory of the gods over the giants, Athena led the dance, as she was the only goddess who had taken part in the Gigantomachia. This dance was called the “Pyrrhic” dance,  performed,  probably,  next to a fire.  The dancers held small oval shields (probably wooden, to be light) horizontally, like the Zulu dancers today, and as Shaka’s father’s bride held an oval toy shield for the dance after their wedding.  It was customary among the Zulus for only unmarried girls and young men to dance, alternating in separate groups.

After the Jews left Egypt and succeeded in crossing the Red Sea, “Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances”  (Exodus, 15, 20)

“On the Acropolis, north of the Erechtheion was a courtyard for ritual dances.”

Dancers’ tutus in the Ballet today are like those of the Zulus, and the tulle rings worn around the arm near the elbow are reminiscent of the ox-tails (and later straw rings, in places where oxen were scarce). In the Don Quixote ballet today, Dulcinea holds a fan while she dances, as they do in aborigine dances in Taiwan.

Head-wreaths and the Greek Orthodox wedding

The Zulu head wreath was made from parts of trees, and was regarded with respect, as a badge of honor and dignity. Usually it distinguished a married and respected man, but Shaka wore one from the age of thirteen, indicating his noble birth. There were white and black rings on it, and the rings of leopard skin. The wreath symbolized the snake and meant protection.

Wreaths connected by a ribbon are worn today by bride and groom in a Greek Orthodox Wedding.

Across the chest and over the shoulder, the King would wear a band of leopard skin or of beads with symbolic patterns, as on the belts of the Pharaohs and the Native Americans.

Besides wreaths, the Zulus also wore small animals on their heads, like the Chinese with the animals of the Zodiac, and the Minoan goddesses. Weasel, mink, and snow-leopard cubs decorated Chinese, Minoan, and Zulu heads.

Common body stances and acts of respect

When Shaka was assassinated, one of his generals approached and, before kneeling next to the dead body, took off his feather headdress.  The three Wise Men took off their hats next to the infant Christ, and today the Greek Orthodox take their hats off when passing a church. A gentleman is supposed to take his hat off when greeting a lady, and also kiss her hand.

Whenever I saw my godfather as a child (considered the “spiritual father” of a child by the Greek Orthodox), my mother would tell me to kiss his hand. Children kiss the hands of priests in church when they are given the holy bread, and when I saw the film on Shaka, I was most surprised to see that each of the royal Zulu ladies, one by one, kissed the hand of Shaka’s mother.

The Zulus had no chairs, and used to sit on the floor on rocks. They would sit on their knees on the ground next to a superior (this was probably copied from animals). The Chinese, Japanese, Mongolians, Egyptians, Hindu Indians, and Native Americans all sit on their knees. Another position of respect practiced in Mongolia today is that of a soldier next to his officer, with his arms tight alongside the body like on a Greek Kouros. Shaka’s guards and the Greek idols had folded arms to show respect.

The black fur hats of Shaka’s guards are similar to Orthodox Jewish hats, to those of Tibetans, and to the guards of Buckingham Palace in London. It seems to me all kinds of hats originated in Tibet, which is situated very high, has a clean atmosphere, and therefore the sun would beat down on the head very much.

Early man observed that you can see and hear better when seated in a semicircle. This explains the configuration of theaters, of groups of monks in Tibet, of scholars, and of the Native American councils. “The council were seated in a semicircle around Shaka, who was seated on a rock.” And “With the army facing him in a semicircle, Shaka thanked all the warriors for their effort.

Pages used to bring river water in gourds for Shaka’s customary ritual public bath. They held them vertically over their heads and handed them to Shaka with both hands. This is the way of offering things respectfully even today in China, and was also the way in Byzantium.  The three Wise Men held their gifts for the new-born Christ with both hands, and a Greek Orthodox priest holds the Holy Communion vessel, covered with red velvet, with both hands.

“A Zulu home was a model of discipline and manners. The dominant rule was that of complete submission to paternal authority. The little boys revering the big boys; the bigger boys the men, and all their parents.”

The Impalement

“This was one of the most revolting punishments ever devised by the human imagination.”  It was particularly for traitors.  The Greeks also had a kind of crucifixion, and if hemlock caused no pain, death in the “barathron,” a deep well in the Acropolis where people were thrown to die of hunger and thirst, was certainly dreadful.

Impalement was the Turks’ preferred method of execution. “A stake was inserted into the victim’s posterior and forced all the way through his body.” Athanasios Diakos, the hero of the Greek revolution against the Turks died this cruel death. This is how we roast the poor Easter lamb today, and how the Zulus roasted a bull killed with their bare hands.

Cronus and Zeus, and Shaka and his baby son

In China every day of the month was dedicated to a bird or animal, and the fifth day of the fifth lunar month was dedicated to the owl. Children born on that day would be taken to the forest to die because “when grown, would kill their father.” (Like Oedipus, which myth was also known in Egypt.) “The owl is the only bird whose children devour the parents.” (Marcel Granet, “The Chinese Civilization.”)

Cronus devoured his children the moment they were born because an oracle had said he would be killed by one of them. Cronus’ wife tricked him and thus spared the baby Zeus, who finally did kill Cronus later.

Shaka did not marry, and did not want children. When “by mistake” a harem girl would give birth to a son, Shaka would kill the baby “because a bull has perfect place until the young bulls – his progeny – begin to dispute his supremacy.”  Had Shaka heard such stories as Oedipus from the Elders?

The heir of a king would be the first son from his first wife, unless otherwise designated.  A dying king would give his finger ring to his heir; one Zulu king in captivity, “suspecting the worst,” solemnly removed his brass arm-ring, and gave it to his fourteen year-old son.

Burial customs

Similarities are also found in burial customs. The Zulus, like the Chinese and the Greeks, would bury their dead kings with their servants and personal guards; their necks would be twisted to cause immediate death.  The king would be carried in his coffin by people who wore no ornaments. (When my father died,  the first thing my mother did was to take off her gold and pearl earrings,  a wedding gift from her mother-in-law that had decorated her ears during the sixty years of her married life.)

The dead body of the king was first wrapped in a black ox-hide, and the face carefully covered and fastened with a cord because dirt was not supposed to fall on it. Still, today, the Greek Orthodox place a [red or white] handkerchief on the face of the dead before lowering the coffin into the grave.

Victims often still alive and moving were thrown into the pit.  Achilles sacrificed many Trojans at the funeral of his friend Patroclus.

Feathers on the head

The universal practice of decorating the head with feathers also links the Zulus to China, the Amazon, Australia, Egypt, Crete, and the Americas. It seems the feather was given as a prize for heroic acts, and in an aborigine tribe in Taiwan today, the first winner of the traditional foot-race is given three feathers to wear on the head.

“Shaka was so pleased once with our victory that he ordered the whole regiment to don a single red loury feather which is the insignia of honor and victory….”

The feathers of the red loury with its striking red are the insignia of outstanding bravery given to distinguished warriors.”

“Shaka would at first allow nobody but himself to wear the brilliant scarlet feathers of the red loury (of which he wore twelve bunches); he presently allowed his most important chiefs to wear one bunch and warriors who had distinguished themselves one feather each.”

“A murmur of admiration arose from the whole assemblage as they viewed Shaka in gala uniform. Round his bare head he wore a circle of stuffed otter skin, bearing within its circumference bunches of gorgeous red loury plumes and, erect in front, a high glossy blue feather, two feet in length, of the blue crane.”


We should all be grateful to E. A. Ritter who recorded the Zulu oral past with accuracy, passion, and love before it was too late, and made an important contribution to the investigation of the human past.

All of the above are often called “accidental resemblances,” but it is time to start thinking that perhaps they are the same patterns, copied.

The Zulus, isolated as they were and maintaining their traditions, unexpectedly granted us a pure, unknown story of the infancy of humanity.


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