THE AFRICAN PRESENCE IN THE ANCIENT FAR EAST
Although the island nation of Japan is assumed by many to have been historically composed of an essentially homogenous population, the accumulated evidence places the matter in a vastly different light. A Japanese proverb states that: “For a Samurai to be brave, he must have a bit of Black blood.” Another recording of the proverb is: “Half the blood in one’s veins must be Black to make a good Samurai.” Sakanouye Tamura Maro, a Black man, became the first Shogun of Japan.
In China, an Africoid presence is visible from remote antiquity. The Shang, for example, China’s first dynasts, are described as having “black and oily skin.” The famous Chinese sage Lao-Tze was “black in complexion.”
Funan is the name given by Chinese historians to the earliest kingdom of Southeast Asia. Their records expressly state that, “For the complexion of men, they consider black the most beautiful. In all the kingdoms of the southern region, it is the same.”
The first kingdom in Vietnam was the Kingdom of Lin-yi. Its inhabitants possessed “black skin, eyes deep in the orbit, nose turned up, hair frizzy at a period when they were not yet subject to foreign domination and preserved the purity of this type.”
The fate of the Black kingdoms and the Black people of Far East Asia must be tied to increased pressure from non-Africoid peoples pushing down from northern Asia. Indeed, the subject of what might be called “Black and Yellow racial and cultural relations in both ancient and modern times” is so critical that it must be developed as a special area of study. It is of particular importance to African and African-oriented scholars and historians.
Japanese Buddhist deity
REV. JAMES MARMADUKE BODDY
AND THE AFRICAN PRESENCE IN ANCIENT JAPAN AND CHINA
“For a Samurai to be brave, he must have a bit of Black blood.”
Presbyterian minister Reverend James Marmaduke Boddy (1886-?), of Troy, New York, was a graduate of Lincoln and Princeton Universities, and the first known African-American writer to address the issue of the African presence in early Japan and China.
Rev. Boddy contributed several articles to the Colored American Magazine, including “The Ethnic Unity of the Negro and the Anglo-Saxon Race” in March 1905, and “Brain Weight and Intellectual Development: Physical Variations of the Negro and the Anglo-Saxon Races” in July 1905. Founded in May 1900, by May 1901 the readership of the Colored American Magazine had grown to one hundred thousand people. Called “the first significant Afro-American journal to emerge in the twentieth century,” in October 1905 the Colored American Magazine published Boddy’s essay entitled “The Ethnology of the Japanese Race.”
In “The Ethnology of the Japanese Race” Boddy attempted to document what he considered a prominent and indelible African strain running through early Japanese history, and that the Japanese people are, at least in part, “Asian Negroes.” Reference the work of pioneer ethnologist and anthropologist James Cowles Prichard, M.D. (1786-1848), Rev. Boddy wrote that:
“They are also described as having `peculiar features, `Crisp hair’ and `dark complexion.’ Besides their Negro features, which are very observable, the early Japanese historians themselves have described for us the `Black Barbarians of the South,’ who, in an age which antedates authentic history, came from the south in ships and settled in Japan.”
Rev. Boddy concluded by saying that:
“These immigrants mingled and amalgamated one with another and with the natives, and in time became a homogeneous race, whose predominating physical characteristics bespeak the unmistakable presence of a large Negro element.”
As for the African presence in early China, there is evidence of substantial populations of an African substratum in the earliest periods of Chinese history, and reports of major kingdoms ruled by Africans are frequent in Chinese documents. The Shang dynasts of ancient China are described as “having black and oily skin.” The Chinese sage Lao-tze (ca. 600 B.C.E.) was “black in complexion.” He was described as “marvelous and beautiful as jasper.” Magnificent temples were erected for him, inside of which he was worshipped like a god.”