Round-eyed Chinese, part n

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

European Man Found in Ancient Chinese Tomb, Study Reveals. This is a follow up on an earlier story, worth reading for a lot of quotes. One might ask why the Chinese look so “Chinese” with this ancient evidence of gene flow. Well, non-trivial gene-flow is not the same as a non-trivial flow of peoples. The low level introgression of selectively favored alleles via isolated matings may be genetically significant, but leave little overall signatures on the genome (ergo, ancestry and other characters keep on a truckin’ as before). I recall once reading an ethnography of the Hui people, roughly, Chinese speaking Muslims, where local villagers presented an old man with a large nose, a full beard and round eyes and declared that “this is a true Hui man!” Even though generations of intermarriage has resulted in the bleeding into the Chinese Muslim population (presumably founded by Central Asians who settled during the Yuan dynasty of the 13th and 14th century) of the general cultural and genetic character of the surrounding Han population (and likely some flow in the other direction too) these people still remember what they once supposedly looked like.

Labels:

22 Comments

  1. One might ask why the Chinese look so “Chinese” with this ancient evidence of gene flow. Well, non-trivial gene-flow is not the same as a non-trivial flow of peoples. The low level introgression of selectively favored alleles via isolated matings may be genetically significant, but leave little overall signatures on the genome 
     
    That’s a putdown towards Chinese characteristics if I ever saw one.

  2. That’s a putdown towards Chinese characteristics if I ever saw one. 
     
    are you serious? or was that a joke?

  3. razib, are you that dense??!! 
     
    You flat-out stated, in your own loquacious way, that having round-eyes is a favored genetic trait.

  4. China is about 92% Han, and only about 16 million Chinese are Hui or Uighur (the rest of the minorities are racially similiar to Han). Any mixing works strongly to make the Hui and Uighur more like Han, without making the Chinese much more Caucasian. 
     
    My Chinese teacher was Hui, and she said her father preferred that she marry any Muslim before a Chinese (and any PhD counted as Muslim!)  
     
    There’s a much more interestign question in the South: how much of the gene pool down there is old Han, and how much is acculturated Thai or Viet or Lolo (etc.)? There is said to be a cline somewhere around the Yangtze — as late as 300 AD the Southerners were still thought of as in some way non-Chinese, even though many or most spoke Chinese.

  5.  
     
    You flat-out stated, in your own loquacious way, that having round-eyes is a favored genetic trait.
     
     
    uh, is english your second language? i’m not being patronizing, i’m being serious. it think it is pretty obvious from the second anecdote that round-eyes is a neutral character, not a favored one (else it would have remained fixed in the hui). additionally, the implication from the persistence of the chinese phenotype despite low levels of gene flow imply that any selectively traits were not visible (e.g., immunological). visible, to be explicit since there is some ‘density’ going on here in comprehension, would include round-eyes, obviously. if the english wasn’t clear, the genetics should have made it so, so perhaps you should bone up on both. 
     
    p.s. anymore stupid comments out of you will get you banned. i don’t have time to waste on the oversensitive stupid. i hope that was clear?

  6. Any mixing works strongly to make the Hui and Uighur more like Han, without making the Chinese much more Caucasian. 
     
     
    yes, that was the obvious implication (i hope i’m not being ‘dense’ in assuming people could figure that out?). 
     
    There’s a much more interestign question in the South: how much of the gene pool down there is old Han, and how much is acculturated Thai or Viet or Lolo (etc.)? There is said to be a cline somewhere around the Yangtze — as late as 300 AD the Southerners were still thought of as in some way non-Chinese, even though many or most spoke Chinese. 
     
    i would be willing to bet that it is around 50/50 or so for most dialect speakers. this is just a guess, but remember that cavalli-sforza in history and geography of human genes found that autosomal markers resulted in the south chinese clustering with southeast asians, not north chinese (who cluster with koreans and japanese). other follow up work has conflicted with this, and there has been some suggestion of male mediated gene flow. though i know some readers have been following this closer than i, so i will see if anyone pipes up. but the ambiguous genetic results suggest non-trivial admixture from both sides IMO, as well as the fact that some cultural practices (e.g., marriage customs) amongst some south chinese groups are pretty clearly derived from indigenous non-han practices.

  7. Epicanthal eyelids seem to be an autosomal dominant trait (but there are various degrees of folding). You can Google various mixed-asian celebrities and judge for yourself. One example is Tyson Beckford, who has very characteristic asian eyes despite being 1/4 Chinese. 
     
    p.s. No, you’re not being patronizing by questioning my native language. You could have better-defined what favored alleles meant by mentioning disease-resistance or nutrient metabolism. Otherwise, an oversensitive stupid reader such as myself may read your words differently.

  8. One example is Tyson Beckford, who has very characteristic asian eyes despite being 1/4 Chinese. 
     
     
    some african groups have the same folds. bushmen in particular. i suspect there is more than one locus implicated, explaining the variation you allude to. and of course, babies have them, so it is probably a tweaking of a developmental pathway. 
     
    p.s. No, you’re not being patronizing by questioning my native language. You could have better-defined what favored alleles meant by mentioning disease-resistance or nutrient metabolism. Otherwise, an oversensitive stupid reader such as myself may read your words differently. 
     
    no, i left it open because favored alleles explore a vast sample space contingent upon selection coefficients which change. it seems that epicanthic folds were favored in east asia for some reason, with a mode of frequency in central-northeast asia. it might be some pleiotropic response of course, and if it is a change in development that might be very likely. in other areas this trait did not spread, and was no favored, for whatever reason. as for the offense you took, that was also inappropriate. perhaps the chinese phenotype is favored in some situations, and not in others. that is a description of how the world is, not a “putdown.” we aren’t in secondary school anymore aiming to be popular with everyone else and boost our self-esteem. i’ve never personally met a man who exhibits a preferential interest in unmixed australian aboriginal phenotypes. that’s how the world (my world) is, it doesn’t speak to how australian aboriginal men feel, and no matter how they feel that doesn’t impact how the world is characterized.

  9. Razib : anymore stupid comments out of you will get you banned. i don’t have time to waste on the oversensitive stupid. i hope that was clear? 
     
    LOL 
     
    I have a hard time understanding what the problem is exactly with you Razib. 
    Looks like you are in some kind of compelling “quest” about something (?), but do you think that the best strategy is to throw out dissenting opinions? 
    If you are so sure about your criterion for “stupidity” it more likely means you have some prejudice. 
    I hope not to get banned for this…

  10. ah, hope in vain. you are banned. in my space you follow my rules and guidelines, i don’t accept interrogation on this point (ergo, the summary banning in your case rather than a warning as above). you read this blog for free and without advertisement. in return you pay us with insightful commentary or amusing banter, or, you remain silent. the commenter above was not dissenting, he was misunderstanding. not only was he misunderstanding, he then implied that i must be dull because i didn’t see the clear cause of his misunderstanding. he then proceeded to lecture me on how i should be clearer. again, as a free service without advertisement this sort of hectoring is unwelcome and intolerable. YOU DO NOT TELL US HOW TO WRITE OUR POSTS! EVER! since i just expended some seconds having to explain the basal courtesies i expect you understand why i do not want any more commentary from you. be silent or never read this weblog again. i do not tolerate being subjected to casual brain farts in the name of free speech. to think well one must be able to breath easily. 
     
    p.s. most of the posters here devote a non-trivial first & second order (creation of the post, the background reading and analysis which builds up to it) time to generation of content for this blog. the onus is on the commenters to read closely, slowy and carefully so that they don’t waste our time with misunderstanding, an equivalent amount of time invested is not necessary, but a nominal quantity is not sufficient. it is a courtesy that one should maintain at least the intent of reciprocating effort with effort.

  11. Yu Hong was a “Sogdian”. Dienekes had some links to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, which had more information about this people and about this grave.  
     
    I have made some studies about the Sogdians in the last weeks. The Sogdians came mostly from Samarkand and the rich and economically whealthy “Sogdiana”. Roxana, the first wife of Alexander the Great was a sogdian princess. The Sogdians were mostly rich traders (caravaniers) between Korea and Byzanz. And they made a lot of politics in this area. They had communities in the Tarim-area and far beyond. 
     
    In the chinese art of the Tang area often you can find pieces that shows “Foreigners”, “Westerners”. Mostly they were Sogdians. Often they are shown as comedians, dancers, musicians. They made several religions spread in East Asia (Buddhism, Manichaeism and others). 
     
    In China they have now found several graves of Sogdian leaders. Often they were mandarin’s and had high positions in the chinese administration. 
     
    Over on my german blog I have more information (and some pictures) about them: 
     
    http://studgendeutsch.blogspot.com/search?q=sogder

  12. I assume were talking about U5.U5 seems to be wide spread, hardly european. 
     
    http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJHG/journal/issues/v74n5/40813/40813.tb2.html 
     
    The saami have a very high frequency of U5b, 
     
    http://www.oxfordancestors.com/papers/mtDNA04%20Saami.pdf

  13. jaspa: Maybe ‘European’ is a bit sensationalist, but certainly he is of west Eurasian background. The Sami have a lot of European genetics in addition to their Uralic origins as well, just as the Finns have some Uralic genetics in addition to their European origins. 
     
    And this “The tomb, in Taiyuan in central China, marks the easternmost spot where the ancient European lineage has been found” is still significant. 
     
    As is this “The burial style and multicolor reliefs found in the tomb are characteristic of Central Asia at the time, experts say. 
     
    The people pictured in the reliefs, however, have European traits, such as straight noses and deep-set eyes.
    “ 
     
    West Eurasian just isn’t as sexy a headline, although more accurate(inclusive).

  14. jaspa: Maybe ‘European’ is a bit sensationalist, but certainly he is of west Eurasian background. The Sami have a lot of European genetics in addition to their Uralic origins as well, just as the Finns have some Uralic genetics in addition to their European origins. 
     
    words like ‘european’ are probably too coarse. but that’s all the press has to work with.

  15. I’m glad you are looking into the Tocharian thing Razib. I look forward to more of the same.

  16. The Sogdians were part of the persian empire. We know persian art and from that we know, what sort of people the elite of the persian empire was. We know Scythian art and from that we know, what sort of people the Scythians were. The Sogdians were a part of this “spectrum” between these peoples. 
     
    In this book  
     
    Haussig, Hans Wilhelm: Archäologie und Kunst der Seidenstraße. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1992 
     
    you can find at least 12 pieces of old chinese (or japanese) art of the Tang area showing “Westerners”. Mostly No. 438 (p. 255) is very convincingly for me (“five musicians on a camel”). But several others too. 
     
    In this book 
     
    Etienne de La Vaissiere: Sogdian Traders. A history. Leiden 2005 
     
    you can find also some pieces of art. Plate IV: “Chinese statuettes representing Sogdians: 1 Caravaneer, 2 Merchant on foot, 3 Groom.” 
     
    (It is very interesting also, that the huns, who made history in Europe after 375, had made a lot of “experiences” before and after that with the Sogdians in Central Asia. Mostly the Sogdians were allies of the huns like like the goths and other germanic tribes in the west.) (Yu Hong was an ambessedor between China and the Huns.) 
     
    The Sogdians had long traditions of political experiences with several great cultures (Chinese, India, Persia, Byzanz, the Huns, the Tocharian kingdoms in the Tarim …) and they were proud of that. They were embassadors between the huns and Byzanz also (in favor of “free market and trade”). On their wall pictures of Old-Samarkand and Pentshikent they had historical scences of several empires, their regents and their religions. 
     
    I’m not fully clear yet about the relationships between Tocharians and Sogdians. It seems that Tocharians flet from the invasion of the Huns to the Sogdians (and to Ferghana?) and founded new kingdoms there. Another part of the Tocharians stayed in the Tarim and in Kansu. But the Sogdians clearly were different from them, probably were more “specialists” in far distance trade.

  17. Thw Sogdians were sometimes part of the Persian Emperor and sometimes not. They spoke what might be called a dialect of Persian, though it could also be called a related language. As time went on they became increasingly Turkified, with long periods of bilingualism and intermarriage. There remain Tajiks speaking Turkish in that area today, though I don’t believe that they’re specifically descendants of Sogdians; Sogdian specifically is probably extinct, or perhaps linguistically represented by a small mountain people long separated from the Sogdian past. As far as I know they were Middle Eastern in type. 
     
    The geographical perspective on these peoples is the most interesting. Central Asia East of Persia, north of India, south and east of the steppe, and west of China (i.e. Uzbekistan, Xinjiang, and neighboring areas) was a mix of deserts, mountains and oases. This area has been the farthest reach of China, Persia, Russia, Alexander the Great, and the Arab Muslims, but the area was often independent and was the home base of Tamerlane, Genghis Khan (in a sense), and the Mughals. It also served as a refuge for survivor peoples such as the Manichaeans, the Tokharians, and the Nestorians.  
     
    The small but very productive oases were urbanized very early, and their main world significance was as a trade link between China, the Persian Middle East, and India. 
     
    Anyway, the Sogdians ere dominant here from 300 BC or earlier but gradually became Persianized and/or Turkified. (However, Sogdians were a force in China as late as 900 AD). The process seems to have been mostly peaceful rather than by conquest or extermination — the Sogdians were middlemen who had to be multilingual, and they were always cutting deals with the more powerful peoples of Persia, Mongolia, and China.  
     
    The Tokharians were a whole different story, and seem to have come from the NW. Their dialect and race are thought to have been W. European rather than Middle Eastern. They survived (as Buddhists) in Xinjiang up until 1000 AD or later, and around the period 100 BC — 200 AD they may have been (it’s not certain) the rulers of the Kushan kingdom in approximately Afghanistan. The Kushans are very poorly known. One interesting thing about them is that they were in some ways heirs of the Bactrian Greeks (using Greek script on some coins), and the Kushans played a major role in the development of Mahayana Buddhism and its transmission to China.  
     
    Most empires privilege specialized minority peoples or sects, either as middlemen to the outside world, as mercenaries, or as agents dependent on and loyal to the ruler. This is much different than multiculturalism and multinationalism; it’s more a divide and conquer strategy. Historically favored minorities (and trading minorities) I can think of immediately include Jews, Armenians, Albanians, Sogdians, Uighurs, Baha’is, Lombards, Norse (in Constantinople), Lebanese, Greeks, Italians, Gurkhas, Irish, Quakers, Chinese (in SE Asia), and some of the peoples of India. (I’ve mixed up mercenaries, technical experts, and trading peoples, but the dynamic is about the same). 
     
    My point, anyway, is that cultural uniformity is really not often found, and that a degree of cultural pluralism is characteristic of empires and large trading networks.

  18. I’ve often read about the Iranian elements in Finnish language ,may be the contact zone was in Central Asia not the Urals ?.Croats have U5 at 10% (are Croats partly Iranian ?) 
     
    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2005/03/saami-and-berbers.html 
     
    Also concernibg Berbers and Saami,having completely different Y but sharing recent U5 
     
    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2005/03/saami-and-berbers.html

  19. Here is some usefull information about Sogdians and their graves in China today: 
     
    http://www.chinaheritagequarterly.org/scholarship.php?searchterm=001_review.inc&issue=001 
     
    And this is interesting too: 
     
    “According to Chinese monk-pilgrim of the 7th century Xuan Zang, half of Sogdian population was engaged in farming, whereas the other half carried on trade. (…) At the age of five, the boys studied books, and after getting their teens they were sent to learn trading. Having reached their 20th year, young men went to neighboring lands to engage in profitable trade.”  
     
    (http://www.sairamtour.com/
     
    And La Vaissier (“Sogdian Traders”, 2005) says about the Sogdian communities in every larger Chinese city and their leaders, the “Sabaos” (p. 152): “But it is quite exceptional that every hu” (that means Sogdian) “community of at least 200 households – the equivalent of a large village – should have been provided with a representive of mandarin rank. The smallest Chinese area having at its head a representative of the central power was normally the district (xian). The leaders of the township, and a fortiori those of the village and quarter, were chosen among the local notables and did not have mandarin rank. The sabao, therefore, should not have had such a position. Only the fact, that they were in charge of foreign communities explains this special treatment, which attests to the economic importance of the communities, incommensurable with the number of their members.”

  20. Fascinating comment John Emerson. Absolutely fascinating. I?ve long been interested in that crossroads area of Eurasia and the various peoples that have inhabited it, and the influences they?ve had. It seems this is an area of history that?s only recently getting a lot of illuminating work done. It?s also obviously a core interest of yours. 
     
    As for your list of historically favored middleman and/or mercenary minorities, there?s only a few that somewhat puzzle me. Why or perhaps I should ask what and where Quakers particularly (ok, big in whaling, but is that what you had in mind?). Same question only perhaps more so about the Irish. Are you thinking about their early dark ages role in English and European Christian evangelism? That?s a pretty different sort of thing, isn?t it? With the Uighurs and Baha?is I?m just completely ignorant, rather than surprised.

  21. John — one other group puzzles me a bit in your list of historically favored middleman or mercenary minorities — Albanians.  
     
    Is than in Roman times that you have in mind?

a