There is a very beautiful story about the last moment of Buddha’s quest towards enlightenment hidden behind the “earth witness” mudra, one of the most iconic images of Buddhism. This representation of Buddha shows him sitting in meditation, with his left palm turned upright, in his lap, and his right hand touching the earth.
According to About encyclopedia article, the story goes like this:
“Just before the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, realized enlightenment, it is said the demon Mara attacked him with armies of monsters to frighten Siddhartha from his seat under the bodhi tree. But the about-to-be Buddha did not move. Then Mara claimed the seat of enlightenment for himself, saying his spiritual accomplishments were greater than Siddhartha’s. Mara’s monstrous soldiers cried out together, “I am his witness!” Mara challenged Siddhartha–who will speak for you?
Then Siddhartha reached out his right hand to touch the earth, and the earth itself roared, “I bear you witness!” Mara disappeared. And as the morning star rose in the sky, Siddhartha Gautama realized enlightenment and became a Buddha.”
“Cool story”, you say, “but your title said something about Sea peoples and Mesoamerica…”. Well, yes, that is the whole point. Strange as it may sound, but I have discovered this story by doing a research on Olmec and Maya civilization. I was actually wondering why is this guy sitting like that:
Altar 4, Parque-Museo La Venta, Mexico, Olmec civilization
It is kind of strange to see him sitting so peacefully, in a pose very similar to “earth witness”, surrounded by demons and snakes carved in stone around him. Did he also attain enlightenment? Moreover, could that be the case with all these other Olmecs?
Now, if you follow my blog you already know that I wasn’t too surprised by this discovery. In the article Who (when and how) was the first to discover America I have already proposed a simple theory that “sea peoples” were the first to reach Mesoamerica, by simply following the ocean currents. This contact could have happened around 1500 BC, pretty much around the same time when there was a huge cultural rise in the cultures of Mesoamerica.
I am also well aware that this timeline is almost 1000 years older than Buddhism, but I believe that connection is still possible because no religion known to man had developed from a scratch and there is plenty of evidence all around on endurance of the power of the symbol.
But if the sea people had really arrived in Mesoamerica, how did their boats look like? It is a fact that so far no shipwreck from this period has been discovered in the region, but maybe this drawing from the Aztec codex Laud could give us some idea:
Based on the available information on this codex, it seems that the official dates push back its origins to pre-hispanic period, meaning that any possibility of European influence is excluded. But IF this is really a representation of the ship, the resemblance to the ships of ancient sea travelers around the world is astonishing. There would be just too many examples to list here, but some of the most important ones would surely be the following:
A bronze age petroglyph from Sweden next to the Viking ship head.
A bronze age boat from Sardinia – sea peoples, Ancient Egyptian boat
And of course, one must not forget Chinese dragon boats, whose tradition is said to go back for more than 2500 years.
As many of you probably know already, this is just one of virtually dozens of similarities shared by ancient cultures across the globe, and even though mainstream historians still claim that there was no contact between them. But if there was a contact, and it was established by means of sea travel, how did these people look like? Perhaps some Mesoamerican figurines can give us hints:
This famous Olmec, non-Native American looking figurine, is dated to “as early as 1200 BC” and it is known as The wrestler. I would like to propose another name here – The rower.
But this is not the only strange figurine. There is no way that I can list all of them in one article, but I can give you some hints for strange motives that appear over and over again.
For example, Phrygian cap, whose European origins can be traced to ancient Thracia:
It should be also well noted that Native American genetics doesn’t really support beard as the one depicted above, as well as on dozens of other figurines. Here are some more examples:
And then again, we have that unique feathered headdress, so characteristic for sea peoples from Egyptian depictions:
Florentine codex – Aztec, Mayan figurines
Sea peoples in Egyptian art
And in the end, maybe the most characteristic face of all, seen in almost all four corners of the world:
Tibetan “Iron man” and Scandinavian burial
The same face, with the same cap, beard and earrings, exists on one Viking ornament, but unfortunately at the time of writing this article I am not capable of finding it. Will update later.
Nevertheless, these are just some of the bizarre similarities that can be found between ancient cultures of Mesoamerica and other corners of the ancient world. Besides the lotus pose, some of the figurines are shown in “yoga-like” positions, some have elongated skulls, the practice that is well documented in Scythian culture, as well as Ancient Egypt, they also practiced mummification and not to mention all the similarities in terms of construction of Pyramids and other megalithic structures. I simply can’t agree that all of this is a result of coincidence.
Many books have already been written on the subject of Mesoamerican legends of people coming from the sea in distant past, bringing knowledge and civilization and disappearing again into the sea. Maybe the most famous of all accounts is (controversial) Montezuma speech, as described in the letter of conquistador Cortez to the Spanish king. Apparently, he claimed that the Aztecs are offsprings of people who came from the sea guided by a certain prince in a distant past. The prince departed with a minor crew, leaving most of the people in the land of Aztecs, and returned again only many years later. But upon his second arrival, he found his people assimilated into the local society, settled down with local wives. They refused to go with him, and so he left again, prophesying that someone will return to claim what was his. Apparently, the Aztecs saw the arrival of the Spaniards as a fulfillment of that prophecy. In any case, the famous lines go like this:
“For a long time we have known from the writing of our ancestors that neither I, not any of those who dwell in this land, are natives of it, but foreigners who came from very distant parts; and likewise we know that a chieftain of whom they were all vassals brought our people to this region. And he returned to his native land and after many years came again, by which time all those who had remained were married to native women and had built villages and raised children. And when he wished to lead them away again they would not go, not even admit him as their chief; and so he departed. And we have always held that those who descended from him would come and conquer this land and take us as their vassals. So because of the place from which you claim to come, namely from where the sun rises, and the things you tell us of the great lord or king who sent you here, we believe and are certain that he is our natural lord, especially as you say that he has known of us for some time. So be assured that we will obey you and hold you as our lord in place of that great sovereign of whom you speak; and in this there shall be no offense or betrayal whatsoever. And in all the land that lies in my domain, you may command as you will, for you shall be obeyed; and all that we own is for you to dispose of as you choose. Thus now as you are in your own country and your own house, rest now after the hardships of your journey.”
Whether this account is true or not I don’t know. But anyhow strange similarities remain. This is a very long topic and therefore my second article on the subject of sea peoples. In the next one we will talk about some interesting clues regarding their identity. Feel free to subscribe if you want to stay updated.