Muhammad

Islam was introduced to China by companions of Muhammad himself in the 7th century, and have been a prominent part of society ever since. They served as allies, warriors, and even leaders themselves. Zheng He is one of the more famous Chinese Muslims, a legendary captain of the most advanced fleet of boats known to the world in the early 1400’s, his larger ships were more than 4 times the length of Columbus’ Santa Maria.

zheng_he

Because images of God and Muhammad (and sometimes even just regular people) are thought of as sacrilegious in Islam, there aren’t depictions of them to represent their people whose things were taken by the Chinese Communist government, however, there are other indicative motifs such as eyes to warn off the evil eye called nazar (eye beads) and hamsa (eye on hand) and Arabic calligraphy of verses in the Quran. Instead of translating the Quran into many languages as is done with the bible, Muslims are taught Arabic and read the Quran as well as listen to services in the original language and exact words used by Muhammad and his followers for over 1,000 years. Consequently Arabic is understood and spoken throughout world whether you are in Turkey, China or Indonesia or the US if you a Muslim- an advantage if one is a world traveler to have a common language I suppose, but perhaps what enables militants to operate so easily beyond country borders.

Chinese Muslims strike fear into the heart of Beijing and the centralized Communist Party because they are so different, and have the potential to destabilize the region and resources coming out of it as well as trade routes passing through it. There are varying degrees of oppression that Muslims in China feel and are present in every region, but hit the hardest hit is also has the greatest concentration of Muslims- the  Uyghur people in the NW corner of China in the Xinjiang Region.

More about this ongoing conflict:


islamicringaa

The rings above, though they look new in the photo and are sold as such, are actually used. Often you can tell just by looking at them with a bit of skepticism and the naked eye, but to be absolutely sure, a hand lens is really all it takes with very low magnification.

To lie repetitively about someone else’s religious items- saying they are brand new to unsuspecting customers undoubtedly is sacrilegious. Another trick Ebay sellers pull is to say that the items are from somewhere other than China or Tibet. The ring below is being sold in Thailand as “Islamic Afghan Persian Animal Intaglio 9.5” but the animal in question appears to be a dragon- not a very Islamic thing to carve. Or a Sichuan tiger perhaps? Or a stylized horse?

turquoiseringgb

This type of stone, though the seller states it is malachite, is a type of synthetic stone made from melting ore together manufactured by Tibetans for centuries, and though there was some trade outside of Tibet and China particularly along the Silk Road of this material, its manufacture is unknown elsewhere. There are 4 main colors, turquoise, dark blue, red and this color of green which could almost be called a turquoise too. Please see the page Dying In A Sea of Blue for more information of types of Tibetan “turquoise”.

turquoiseringtwoja

This is kind of a weird design that looks like a Spanish conquistador? Many of the rings are unique and were portraits of specific people, not just designs of some ruler or religious figure that was copied time and again. It is unclear whether these are self portraits done out of vanity and pride of the wearer, or if they might have been given as gifts to them, or if they just commemorated other people in the ring owner’s life.

It is pretty obvious from the sheer numbers of portraits why it might have been important for Mohammad to declare that the image of man shouldn’t be represented in art- and why this might be considered false idolatry. There is certainly a form of democracy and equality in society, as well as personal freedom of expression in these portraits absent in later times.

turquoiseringwa

turquoiseringthreeba

turquoiseringthreeca

turquoiseringtwoha

This ring features glass or enamel that is turquoise colored, not actual turquoise as well as a symbol that looks suspiciously like a stylized shou symbol (壽) on the sides.

turquoiseringthreewa

turquoisependantca

turquoisependantqa

turquoisebeadba

turquoisependantra

Repoussé pendants featuring various animals are popular in Tibetan jewelry even to this day, again another indication these are probably Tibetan in origin or very closely related. The bird looking back is an ancient symbol seen again and again in their art and may have depicted a falcon looking back at it’s master or returning.

turquoisependantta
Repoussé turquoise pendant with a deer in the back and a typical floral pattern with animals for Tibetan and Nepalese jewelry.

Other artifacts which are also found with these Tibetan-Persian-Muslim artifacts include scarabs and cuniform script indicating and long history of communication with other societies that reached all the way to Egypt. In the tombs of pharaohs was found lapis lazuli that came from Afghanistan (and possibly Tibet since they may also have a deposit that the Chinese have never disclosed, but are robbing to this day), and the flow of goods and information didn’t just flow one way apparently.

scarabia

Lapis is also as popular stone in Tibet and China as it is in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and indicates a long history of trade. But it is thought that Tibet or western China could also have deposits which have long became mined out or are still kept secret, especially if we try to account for the vast volume of lapis that the Chinese stole from Tibetans that is currently for sale on the market from ancient rings to sticks used for coloring Tibetan thangkas to pendants. Even with an extraordinarily long history of trade with Afghanistan, these are still rocks and difficult to transport- heavy- and the vast volume (for example 164,933 “lapis” items were for sale on Ebay on 05/28/2017 mainly being sold by Chinese sellers) indicates there may be another source closer to Tibet itself.

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lapisbeadka

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lapisbeadwa

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Warriors are depicted on this lapis bead, one of them is apparently wearing a lion head on his head.

lapispendantda

There are at least 4 if not more possible source locations- none legitimate nor good- for these Islamic pendants and rings which all used if not antique and archaeological artifacts. Many are cleaned up and sold as brand new which is very suspicious behavior and shows a lack of honesty to begin with. One is the Iraq/Syria conflict area, another is Afghanistan, another is the NW portion of China including the pathway for the new silk road through China, and another is minority people who live in Western China (Tibet and Xinjiang) which may include Muslims and/or white people referred to as the Yuezhi by the Chinese.

These definitely are not from Thailand though- though the majority of this style of jewelry is being sold through sellers there- unless there is some oppressed minority population there that the world doesn’t know about (similar to the Rohingya) that is currently being robbed and having their ancestors graves looted.

lapisringtwoxa

Among the magical and auspicious irreplaceable scenes being looted is a man holding two flying horses above, while the woman below apparently is riding a deer with sword in hand.

lapisringthreeza

lapisringfourga

This lapis ring features a hunter on a horse with a dog to his left, a scorpion and a snake. Another hunter on horseback ring below.

lapisringfouria

  • See this auction: sold 04/02/2017 for $11.50 by tongrengguwei_7– no longer a registered user when checked back 05/2017, may have just taken people’s money and ran, used other people’s photos- typically the seller vintage.intaglio has photos like the ones above and below with 4 different views put into one single photo, as well as taking a photo of the impression of the carving in the same black clay.

lapisringda

In many of these lapis rings there are stars that have been carved into the design, an indication that these are a people who hold special significance in the stars- for navigation purposes knowing the stars is essential, especially in vast deserts where there might be few other navigational aids.

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lapisringtwoua

lapisringthreera

One of the very first animals to be domesticated- may have never really been a domesticated species at all- but taken from their family and imprinted by humans at a young age like eagles and falcons. Even today owning a bird of prey is considered to be a sign of wealth among Persians and Arabs as well as native herdsman in northern China and Mongolia. The ring above features a bird with a man’s face on a platform or perch, while the ring below also depicts a bird on a man-made perch.

lapisringtwogb

lapispendantxa

lapisringfourha

Animals were very important and this ring features some of the most important at the beginning of civilization and culture. Without these special partnerships between animal and people beyond just eating them for food, we might still be banging two rocks together in a cave someplace. The figure to the left is a zoomorphic horse, the one to the right is a bird-man, in the middle is the faithful dog without which no hunt would be complete, and a bird- probably a hawk or falcon used for hunting is above them all.

lapisringthreewa

Another Bird-man depiction in lapis lazuli.

lapisringtwosa

This lapis ring features a man who appears to be wearing a headdress of feathers, and may be indicative that it came from tribal people who apparently weren’t wearing turbans, koofis (kufi), or even scarves and contrary to Islamic rules today in most parts of the world, they depict images of people quite frequently. The figures and faces don’t often repeat themselves- as would be the case if they depicted a deity that was being worshiped by many or a great political leader- and may be an actual portrait of the original owner of the ring or their loved one or local chief.  Each is quite unique and to have an actual likeness of common people and what they wore from the time period- not just emperors- is remarkable and certainly worth a lot more than what they are being sold for.

The old culture known as Bactrian is known from northern Indian as well as Afghanistan, and certainly has ties to makers of these pendants and rings, if not being them. But if these items are indeed from China &/or Tibet, they would represent an extension of the culture’s range and sphere of power. The Chinese may have real issues admitting there were any other great cultures in China besides their own, and this is why such things are being sold as they are, not that they are funding ISIS and from Syria as one might suspect since they are so “middle eastern”- but the ring style closer to Tibetan styles that that of Palestine.

In the ring below the man seems to have a dragon head (or a stylized beast that is similar to a fu dog or Pixiu)- on his head- another clue once again that these may be from CHINA, and not from Afghanistan and further west as you might assume.

lapisringtwowa

lapisringfourwa
Ancient lapis ring depicting a battle between man and beast

This culture- Bactrian, or white Tibetans??- may have started the whole ball of cultural wax going way back when- as evidenced by these beads which are agate inlayed with a similar technique of dzi beads which the Tibetans and Chinese may have learned from them, as well as a bunch of Roman or Greek looking carved characters.

dzibeadsaa

Agate, also known as carnelian, though popular throughout the middle east is also popular in Tibet and China as exemplified by their widespread use as dzi beads. The example below has gold capped ends.

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dzibeadsla

dzinecklaceaa

Though this necklace contains lapis lazuli which could be from Afghanistan or the many places goods have traveled from there, the dzi bead featured in the center- a very dark agate color with a very light design- as well as the agate striped beads which are faceted give this away as Tibetan. This lapis dzi bead necklace is being sold by the same seller in Thailand who is selling many of the other Islamic style goods also featured on this page- further evidence these personal items and artifacts are being robbed from China-Tibet, and not elsewhere in the middle east where it is also known widespread looting is taking place.

intaglioringba

agateringthreeda

Livestock as well a wild animals are depicted on these intaglio rings, time and time again. bull as well as the horse were extremely popular both in art and life for these people, and were and essential form of wealth within themselves.

agateringfiveka

agateringthreewa

If having just a horse was a sign of wealth and would afford the person much more mobility than just walking, then having a carriage would have been really something, especially on the steppes of Eurasia.

agateringfourna

This creature is conspicuously close to what the Chinese call a Pixiu or Pi Yao- a mythological winged beast that were thought to bestow good fortune and guard graves- but this version possibly predates any of the Chinese and what they copied originally was from this lost culture now being robbed of everything and disposed of piece by piece.

ringma

 

 

agateringfourka

  • See this auction: no longer a registered user when checked back on auction 05/2017, apparently was a scammer (based in China according to Ebay unlike many of these rings which are being sold in Thailand) by ciei549052-8

agateringthreexa

personha

agateringthreeqa

An agate ring that may have been worn by a nobleman of the time who also was into falconry as part of his esteemed title and position. More birds is depicted in the gold and silver rings below.

agateringfouria

agateringfiveha

agateeyeringda

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agateeyeringea

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agateeyeringla

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agateeyeringra

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agateringthreeua

These types of agate “eyes”- with concentric rings of light and dark- are very popular in Tibet, and most frequently seen on religious pendants carved from agate. It is unknown where this came from exactly or who influenced who, but is another clue that its origin is close to if not in Tibet along with the rest of the Muslim goods this and other Thai sellers are selling. Though many of the pieces of jewelry from the same seller are very rusted from being in the ground, this is not the case with this ring, and may indicate both old and new were confiscated/stolen from this cultural group all at once.

agateeyeringha

In contrast to the fancy ring above, below is a very plain agate ring that looks far newer, also being sold by the same seller in Thailand as many of the most ancient; and may be evidence that both the dead and the living were robbed of their worldly possessions, and it didn’t just happen a hundred years ago.

agateeyeringia

agatependantra

Agate (carnelian) pendant featuring a snake and a dragon, again another clue that these artifacts are being systematically looted from China, and not just war torn Afghanistan and other parts of the middle east.

teapotaa

A teapot made from ancient glass from the same Thailand Islamic store’s stock, yet more evidence that the origins of these goods may be within China itself like so many of the items being sold on Ebay these days, and not from elsewhere, as well as the melon bead agate necklace with Tibetan findings they were also selling.  Melon beads are extremely popular in Tibet to this day, and are considered sacred.

agatenecklaceea

 

agatebeadtwoha

In this scene from a carnelian bead a ring or perhaps a crown is being given to a child by a kneeling man, while an angel like figure (bird-man) is standing on a pedestal nearby- auspicious swastika symbols are dispersed through the scene similar to the bead below which has even more auspicious symbols and some of the first religious ones known to humanity.


beadma

The seller gives the origin of this bead and most of their goods as “near Eastern”- which could be anywhere really besides America or Africa or Europe. But there are a number of ancient Buddhist symbols like the wheel and swastika which may be some of the earliest representations of such.

Here again is a very similar scene on a bead- a goat with people holding daggers and one of them holds a ring-

beadra

Because of the religious signs incorporated into the design this may also depict an ancient religious ritual- perhaps a sacrifice? Ancient Pagans?


the “evil” eye: 

evileyebraceletda

Both Xinjiang and Tibet are in the western half of China and share many more likenesses than differences both historically and in modern times. They have more in common with each other, than either has with Beijing or Shanghai. The bracelets above could just as easily be Tibetan as they are Uyghur, and people who might believe in wearing eyes to ward off “the evil eye” aren’t limited to just Muslims, however the chances are pretty great that these came from persecuted people from these regions, particularly since the items are all USED and being sold as “new without tags” and the low price they are sold at with free shipping. The evil eye wall hangings below are also straight from China, but sold as “Turkish Blue Glass” without question. How did so many evil eye wall hangings from Turkey (if they are from Turkey) end up in Shanghi anyway? Parts of Western China is also called “Eastern Turkestan” by some.

evileyewallhangingaa

  • Buy It Now page ($8.80- more than 67 available, 152 sold 1/2016; 47 available, 272 sold 10/2016; 72 available, 300 sold 02/2017) by ton-li8
  • Another Buy It Now page, same photo, different seller ($9.39- more than 10 available, 12 sold 1/2016): ended 04/29/2016 with 29 total sold by wangye_sh
  • Another Buy It Now page, different photo, same seller as previous ($9.39- more than 10 available, 3 sold 10/2016; price reduced to $8.75- more than 10 available, 5 sold 02/2017) by wangye_sh
  • Another Buy It Now page, same photo, different seller ($9.39- more than 10 available, 1 sold 1/2016; more than 10 available, 30 sold 10/2016- price reduced to $8.40- more than 10 available, 43 sold 02/2017) by getyoursave
  • Another Buy It Now page, same photo, different seller ($8.15- more than 10 available, 9 sold 10/2016): ended 12/21/2016 with 13 total sold by attic-grandmas
  • Another Buy It Now page, same photo, different seller ($8.40- more than 10 available, 8 sold 02/2017) by us2015-evile

glassnecklacega

A very old “evil eye” necklace made from glass and conch shell beads above, and seven eyed glass beads with gold below.

glassnecklacera

eyependantba

islamicnecklaceca

  • See this auction: sold 01/19/2016 for $1.50 by sunshine0316
  • Buy It Now page, same photo, same seller ($2.99- more than 10 available, 301 sold 10/2016) by sunshine0316
  • Another auction, same photo, different seller: sold 01/17/2016 for $1.75 by sophia1618
  • Buy It Now page, same photo, same seller (was $1.99, raised to $2.99- more than 10 available, 15 sold 1/2016; more than 10 available, 60 sold 05/2016; more than 10 available, 112 sold 10/2016) by sophia1618

As most (Arabic) women are, they love gold and coins as well. Of belly dancers and silk roads such jewelry speaks, not the Sharia law enforced in the modern age by some extremist Muslims.

coinearringsea

Prayer Beads (Tasbih):

As far as I can tell, these are all used coming out of China, and many of the tasbihs (and parts such as beads and silver charms) have been shipped throughout the world. Because the production costs and overhead is extremely low when people are robbed of their possessions, there is no one who can compete with the Chinese prices- retail or wholesale- for these mass stolen goods from oppressed minorities.

islamictasbihdb

These beads made of resin (or a form of bakelite)- the material is very characteristically Chinese- and are sold as “new”. The picture above might lead you to believe this is true, but having the actual object in hand is quite a different story. This resin material durable, but still quite soft, so any prior use will make marks and create wear. Besides that when this tasbih arrived it also had obvious cracks from being damaged while being worn in the end beads as seen in the photo below.

tasbihab

ambertasbihaa

Another tasbih with obvious damage in the photos that the seller took to sell it with.

ambertasbihab

This problem of lying about other people’s prayer beads certainly isn’t limited to one seller, nor to one denomination or religion.

tasbihaa

  • Buy It Now page ($3.45- 3 available, 3 sold 05/2016): ended 07/17/2016 with 9 total sold by cathaybox

Once again the seller’s photographs are very misleading, and though sold as new, a closer first-hand inspection reveals a different story.

tasbihaa

tasbihba

This yellow butter color is far more common than colored or fancier ones in resin or mila, a form of man-made amber that often involves adding fragrances as well.

Incense Burners:

Cloisonne was originally thought of as a Muslim art form in China, spreading there from the Middle East in the 13th or 14th century. This is a very, very old burner- the metal is so patinated it has become black. Because of the arduous amount of work it took to make cloisonne- a form of enameled metal- it would have been owned by someone very wealthy or public officials. During the Cultural Revolution many items like this were ransacked and looted, and in the days of the Great Leap Forward, people were told to gather all their metal and melt it down. This could be part of the reason why there are no bamboo baskets, no rugs, yet all this metal ware that survives. Someone didn’t melt all the things they should have and hoarded it all this time? But alas, the fascinating journey of one family’s priceless heirlooms may never be told, particularly if the looters are never caught and apprehended.

islamicburnerda

islamicburnerba

This Islamic burner was probably pulled from a grave, then sold on Ebay for a fraction of its true value along with so many other items devalued in the hands of the Chinese. The Chinese people take one look at this and know it is bad news, this is why none of them shop on Ebay (though too polite and smart to say it). True collectors of antiques and legitimate dealers take one look at this and know it is bad news. So who is left to buy or bid? And that is how you totally devalue everything that an entire country ever owned while still making a killing…


Portraits in Glass:

Though the Chinese may have been slow to adopt the new art form of glass making and blowing, Islamic communities invented it and widely used it since ancient times as seen in the beads and cloisone examples above and these self portraits. It would seem from the massive number of self-portraits both in these beads and in rings and pendants from these communities which later became Islamic, that Mohammad may have had a good reason to specifically say people should not be portrayed anymore, since it was in his best interest to have only one leader- himself and God- instead of having 5,000 minor tribal kings and queens being venerated and worshiped.

 Though these types of glass face beads are well known in the Middle East, not much is known about them in China and Tibet which is where it is believed most of these came from. Many of the faces seem Indian or Middle Eastern, and have tilika marks on their foreheads which predate Islam and are still worn by Hindus today.

glassfaceka

It is pretty obvious from the amount of dirt still caked on these artifacts they didn’t come from any private collection, but straight from the ground.

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glassfacema

glassfaceoa

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glassfacera

glassfacezb

glassfacepa

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glassfaceva

glassfaceta

glasspendantua

This style of pendant, heavy metal- flat backed with a central stone or piece of glass with blue and red colors was popular with Nepalese and Tibetans until the present day, though this is may be a much older example. In a place that doesn’t change much for centuries, neither does art nor style, making dating such objects even more difficult when taken out of context and just sold on the black-white market like this.


One of the most prevalent recognizable portraits in these ancient pre-Islamic artifacts from the near east, is that of Alexander the Great. Quite a thing to have his portrait from the same time period he lived, and surely a robbery of great magnitude is every one of these sold in complete ignorance and greed rooted in complete prejudice.

“In the course of just thirteen years before his death at Babylon in 323 B.C., he changed the Mediterranean and Near Eastern world forever by bringing the territory of the Persian Empire under Greek rule. This vast region stretched from the borders of India and inner Afganistan in the east to the Adriatic Sea in the west and from Egypt in the south to the coasts of the Black Sea in the north. The Hellenistic Near East and the Hellenistic world beyond the Near East were the product of Alexander’s adventure. The repercussions of his reign were thus profound, and nowhere more so than in the history of money. Alexander’s coins, the most familiar being the silver issues bearing a head of Herakles on one face and a seated Zeus with the king’s name on the other, were struck throughout the empire.”

frodoringha

“Such coins were not only minted during Alexander’s lifetime but their issue was continued in the two decades following his death by the Macedonian generals who divided the empire between them and created the Hellenistic kingdoms. Even as the successor kings initialed coinages in their own names and with their own types the ‘Alexanders’ lived on for two centuries during which time they were issued by independent cities as an international coinage. ” -From The Dating of the Coinage of Alexander the Great by Zoë Sophia Kontes, available from Brown University

frodoringga
Ring made from a coin of Alexander the Great

It is unknown where and when these coins were made- they certainly aren’t made from silver as other known examples struck in Macedonia during Alexander’s lifetime (they are bronze which would have been far cheaper), but they were traded and worn in part of the great empire he tried to create and probably date to that time period from around 320 to 100 BC.

“During Alexander’s lifetime, twenty-five mints were producing his coins: two in Macedonia, one in Egypt, and twenty-three in Asia. In the years immediately following his death that number increased to thirty-one, possibly including a Peloponnesian mint at Sicyon. In the last quarter of the third century, over a hundred years after his death, fifty-one mints were still producing Alexanders, mainly the tetradrachms.” -From The Dating of the Coinage of Alexander the Great by Zoë Sophia Kontes, available from Brown University

frodoringia
Coin ring featuring the backside of a Alexander the Great coin stuck in Asia featuring Zeus

These also may be a depictions of Alexander the Great who had shoulder length hair.

faceringma

facependantha

Alexander the Great may have been revered in a God-like way, particularly by Tibetans who were fairly powerless to defeat their enemies even at that point without additional help, or the people whom he left behind to manage state affairs after his conquests.

 

 

 

 

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