Tuesday, March 23, 2021

References to Red-Haired Tribes and Peoples

Redhead references from 19th century ethnographers has been a common theme on this blog over the years. I came across a few more in my recent searches around Google. I'll share them in random list form below.

1) On Tartar Women
"Red hair is considered beautiful among the Tartar women, who use a dye for the purpose of making it that colour. Their nails, also, are stained a brick colour"

2) Red Hair in the Caucasus
"Generally speaking, the people of Caucasus are large, well made, rather lean, of a tawney complexion, with strong features and a little nose; their eyes small and lively, thin eyebrows, and their hair is red or black."
"[..] In the provinces of Caucasus red hair is thought so great a beauty in the women, that such as have not received that advantage from nature use red pomatum."

3) Red Hair in the China Review

It was a little difficult to garner the correct context for these passages just from browsing the work. I think they're a retelling of Chinese reports of the peoples they had dealings with. With the writer relaying the descriptions attempting to equate the peoples to groups, nations or tribes known to western readers. I'll reproduce the quotes here as is. It might be worth coming back at some point in the future though to take a second look.
"The men are said to have been of tall stature, with red hair and greenish (?blue) eyes, and to have never before had intercourse with China. The Caliph's name was [Chinese characters]. This description would seem to apply (if necessary) to Magyers or Russians."
"The King of the Wusun we have shown was called K'un-mi, and we have also shown that they had blue eyes and red hair. The Wu-sun may therefore have been Hungarians."

4) Finns, Ostiaks, Turks and Franks

Quite a few passages from this work.

The Finns;
"The Finns are regarded as the remains of people once far more numerous, who have been conquered, repressed, carried off, or driven back by Slavonians, Turks, and Mongolians. They lead the life of hunters and husbandmen, rather than that of warriors and nomads. Reddish, or, frequently red hair, a scanty beard, a complexion marked with red patches, bluish or grey eyes, sunken cheeks [..]"
The Ostiaks;
"The Ostiaks who dwell upon the banks of the Obi appear to have preserved in much greater perfection the characteristics of the Finns. They are a people devoted to hunting and fishing, with red hair, very uncivilized, and partly idolatrous."
Now quite a curious quote about the Turkish peoples;
"The Turks had originally red hair, greenish-grey eyes, and a Mongolian cast of countenance. But these characteristics have disappeared."
The Franks;
"Before going to battle, the Frank dyed his hair red. The hair itself was frequently held together by a golden net, or a copper circlet; at other times he dressed himself with the spoils of wild beasts."

5) On the Russians

Finally we have this rather unflattering account of the Russians from the 14th century Muslim traveller Ibn Battuta.

The Russians are an "ugly and treacherous race of Christians, with red hair and blue eyes."

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