Why Soma and Sake are both the drink of the gods

Sake, the drink of the Gods in Japan from the very beginning of its appearance in Japan, was a part of early religious rites that were the prototype of what is identified as the Shinto religion today. It was used to purify the temple and formed an important to the gods. Sake is believed to have first brewed around 300 B.C. in Japan a few centuries after wet rice cultivation was introduced in that country.

Rites and festivals connected to the use of sake

“Naorai is related to yearly festivals, called “matsuri” in Japanese, and refers to people first offering food and drink to the gods that reside in a Shinto shrine, and then taking back and partaking of that food and drink themselves…and matsuri, are regularly-held events for expressing gratitude to gods that have come down to earth for the abundance of nature, – especially harvest – and the birth of descendants, as well as for petitioning these gods for continued stability in life. Also, natural disasters are considered to be expressions of an angry god or the roaming souls of ancestors. Occasionally, to quell these, special matsuri are sometimes held.

During a matsuri, food and drink are naturally prepared. That food and drink might include stalks of rice plants, rice itself, sake, meat and poultry, fish and shellfish, fruit, grains, salt and water. In other words, the gifts of the sea and the gifts of the mountains. As these items of food and drink are the result of the abundance of nature, they have come from god. And, in gratitude, they are offered back to the god with a prayer of “please, partake in these.” Naturally, the god does not actually eat and drink these, but they are offered with a spirit of modesty. In this way, these offerings of food and drink are infused with the blessing of that god, and filled with grace. Later, the people partake of this food and drink and are themselves filled with the blessings and grace of god. This is what Naorai is all about. In a sense, Naorai can be described as gods and humankind eating and drinking together….

A Shinto shrine, again, called a Jinja in Japanese, is not where a god lives. It is merely where a god comes down onto earth, and the object of worship called a Go-Shintai that is enshrined in a Jinja is where the god temporarily resides during the god’s stay on earth. Also, the verb “matsuru” means to create a place like this…

It is unclear just when the practice known as Naorai, or customs similar to it, began. In the Nihon Shoki, the oldest written account of history in Japan, written in the beginning of the 8th century, it is noted that it was a custom since before the 5th century to take food and drink that had been offered to a god and partake of it in an all-night event. It seems, therefore, that this practice may have formed into a certain type of magic incantation among the tribes that lived in central and western Japan between the 3rd and 5th centuries. The form of the ceremony changed over the subsequent 1500 years but it has been passed down into modern Japan. In Japan on New Year’s day, people gather with their families and eat special New Year’s food, much of it consisting of various stewed items. These are actually supposed to represent offerings to the god that has come to open the new year, and are later eaten by people. This too has its roots in Naorai…

The most important of all the food and drink items offered to a god is sake. Sake itself if a blessing from the gods, and it created by brewing rice, another gift from the gods. Not only that, the light inebriation we feel when we drink sake is a special feeling that can be likened to being transported to another world, so it is viewed as a very special drink amongst the offerings.

This is why sake is indispensable to a matsuri. Also, the sake used in such matsuri is even brewed at certain shrines as a ceremonial event. Looking at the written records remaining, the making of koji was done in the same way, but instead of using a cultivated yeast and creating a highly concentrated yeast starter as is done today, natural yeast cells were allowed to float down into the mixture to ferment it. Also, since the entire process only took four or five days, it was very sweet sake with a very low alcohol content. Much of the rice grain remained, and it was white and very cloudy. It is quite different from the sake we usually brew today.

It was considered that this kind of sake was very appealing to the gods. In actuality, it was likely that sake was offered to the gods because the people themselves liked it. Then, through Naorai, the people could drink the sake. Then, it is thought, they could confirm their own existence as living in nature, or strengthen their awareness of their identity as a member of their ancestral family or village.” — Sake – Drink of the Gods, Drink for the People

The oldest Shinto shrine is said to be the Omiwa Jinja in Nara Prefecture, which houses Matsuo-sama, the primary god of Saké brewing. Matsuo-sama, the main saké-brewing deity has shrines dedicated to him inside Japanese breweries. A Shinto ritual called O-miki is performed by a priest who sips saké from a white porcelain cup at the altar. It is believed that he is taking a bit of the god-force into himself and becoming at one with the gods.

The sugi from the grounds of this shrine are traditionally used to create all of the sugidama and holds special significance in the Shinto religion.  Tanks for Saké brewing were once made of sugi wood as were the masu, small boxes used as cups. It was thought that sugi would prevent the Saké from spoiling.

“… a sugidama, also known as sakabayashi, which is a globe of tightly bound sugi (“Japanese cedar”). These green balls are traditionally hung in front of Saké breweries when the first batch of Saké is pressed each year. They also hang in front of Saké bars and stores. As the months pass, the needles of the sugi will turn brown. It is said that once they have turned brown, the Saké has aged enough to be ready for drinking.” — Sake customs

The sugi tree holds special significance in the Shinto religion. The oldest Shinto shrine is said to be the Omiwa Jinja in Nara Prefecture, which houses Matsuo-sama, the primary god of Saké brewing. The sugi from the grounds of this shrine are traditionally used to create all of the sugidama.

Tanks for Saké brewing were once made of sugi wood as were the masu, small boxes used as cups. It was thought that sugi would prevent the Saké from spoiling.”

History of sake

“The basic process of making sake involves “polishing” or milling the rice kernels, which were then cooked in good, clean water and made into a mash. The earliest “polishing” was done by a whole village: each person would chew rice and nuts and then spit the mixture into a communal tub – the sake produced was called “kuchikami no sake,” which is Japanese for “chewing the mouth sake.” The chewing process introduced the enzymes necessary for fermentation. Although it was part of a Shinto religious ceremony, this practice was discontinued when it was learned that Koji (a mold enzyme) and yeast could be added to the rice to start the fermentation process.

At first, sake was produced for private consumption by individual families or villages. While this practice continued, sake rice also became a large scale agricultural product. The largest production area was centered around Nada, near the present-day city of Kobe. Although more sake was being made, it was mostly consumed by the upper classes. Sake was used for many different purposes in the Shinto religion, including as an offering to the Gods and to purify the temple. The bride and groom each consume sake in a Shinto wedding ceremony in a process known as Sansankudo. There were many other uses for sake in Shinto, most of which are still in practice today.” — “History of Sake

The brewing process:

“Sake production was always strictly regulated by the authorities because it is made from rice grains and rice is the staple food for the Japanese nation. The brewing process required ample space to ferment in one year and its successful production was dependent to a great extent on working capital. Thereby brewers were representatives of the upper‐class in Japan and originally sake was produced and consumed mostly by the upper classes.  Before the Edo period (1603‐1867), large land owners produced sake from rice surplus for drinking during the festivals in the villages. In 1657 the Tokugawa shogunate started issuing licenses (the wooden plates with labels) for sake production. This measure led to a total control of the number of breweries all over Japan. Each year the authorities also allocated the amount of rice available for sake production….

Until the 17th century, sake was brewed all year round. From mid‐17th century, the early period of Edo, sake brewing became a seasonal affair from October to March, and the temporally employment relationship was introduced to kuramoto. Toji and kurabito6 were farmers or fishermen during summer, and starting autumn they moved to kura to work. Most toji did not live close to kura; there were cases when they lived hundreds of kilometres away from kura. Brewing sake itself needs constant efforts, as in all processes, in particular controlling koji and yeast are quite complex, they are closer to art than to engineering or science. The ultimate responsibility for the quality of a final sake product lies on the toji, who should master every technical aspect of brewing.

Although the brewing depended on the toji’s six senses, nowadays measuring instruments have been introduced. Considered as minimum requirements, the toji has to be good at figures; he sees the data and calculates to make a production plan, and keeps accounts to pay taxes. However, toji’s duties extend beyond actual brewing. Toji recruited kurabito (often coming from far‐away villages) and signed a contract with them. For almost 6 months, toji and kurabito worked constantly together, lived in the same place, separated from their families. As the administrator, the toji cared for the kurabito and tried to provide a peaceful atmosphere in kura.

There are some areas in Japan such as Tajima (Hyogo), Tamba (Hyogo), Nambu (Iwate) traditionally famous for producing talented toji. The people in this area are said to be talented like the brewers.

Ancient sake‐brewing techniques and skills have been inherited by those in toji groups across Japan.

However, not all kurabito can become a toji, the toji employment system is based on merit. Toji has to possess different talents – be a good technician, a well‐organised administrator, and a man of a character. Many kuramoto have been operating for 200 or 300 years and have been handed down from generation to generation, remaining in the same family up to nowadays. Kurabito also have been working over many generations but not always in the same kuramoto.  Not every sake brewery has such a talented toji. In addition, it is not essentially a contract system. Toji is a part‐time worker though at the same time he is an independent craftsman.”

Central Asian  Origins of the Heavenly Drink — the Soma / Haoma

Sake was likely a drink that originated with or that is tied closely with the Saka people’s rituals and fondness for the Hauma or Soma (or Goma in Japanese) drink, who came from the continent, who were of Iranian Saka-Scythian origins or proto-Koreanic-Saka admixture. Whether Saka-Scythians, Huns, Mongols and Turks, they are frequently depicted on steles with a cup raised in hand.

“… a recent BBC documentary, ( The Story Of India, Michael Wood) traced the origin of Soma to Ashkhabad in Turkmenistan, where the tree or leaves that ultimately produce the drink were found millenia before. It seems that following a wave of migration, this tree might have been or its seeds transported first to Northwest Hindukush mountains by people who started calling themselves Aryans. After sometime, the Aryans moved eastward, down and along the great Indian river Ganges and the plant seems not to have survived, because of humidity. Thus some origin of certain practices like drinking Soma might have originated elsewhere, in Central Asia and adopted or taken away by migrants.

The great Rigveda mentions it and it seems its writers or those who collected the hymns actually would drink good amounts of soma, for it would allay anxieties, heighten perception and improve more intelligent thought. The Hindu God Indra, God of thunder and rain, was used to drinking huge amounts of Soma, but being a God, it seemed to affect him less than other ordinary mortals. The Greek Ambrosia might be the Indian Soma, though interestingly, Soma does not seem to have survived in later day Hindu culture. It is interesting to note the more Central Asian origins of Soma and its migration westwards, giving the entire region a common Godly drink, something for its present day sons to mull over! Soma also has got aphrodisiac qualities. It seems to contain poppy, cannabis and ephedrine” — Soma : Drink Of Gods?

The haoma for the Iranian or Persian Zoroastrians,

“is associated with the baresman (haomayo gava baresmana), a bundle of twigs from select medicinal plants and trees. The method of preparing the haoma extract is preserved in the principal Zoroastrian ritual called the yasna ceremony where the central rite is the ab-zohr, meaning strength to water.

According to the Greater Bundahishn 9.4, at the time of creation, ten thousand healing plants grew to counteract ten thousand diseases. From those ten thousand plants grew a further hundred thousand species. At the centre of these healing plants is the chief among them: the mythical white haoma tree or plant – the plant of eternal life called the Gokard / Gokaren / Gaokarena (Vendidad 20.4). From a variety of haoma, the yellow or golden haoma, the ancients cut stems when making the baresman bundle (Vendidad 19.18-19).

The following are further descriptions and references to haoma in the Hom Yasht, chapters 9 – 11 in the book of Yasna, a book that is part of the Zoroastrian scriptures, the Avesta. In some passages, the Mount Alburz range (Avestan Hara Berezaiti – stretching from the Pamirs to the Caspian Sea) is mentioned as Haoma’s habitat.

The root word for the local names for ephedra changes from haoma to soma as we move into the traditional Aryan lands of the upper Indus river, i.e. Hapta Hindu or upper Hind / Sind. Today, these areas form Nuristan / Kafiristan in North-Eastern Afghanistan and the eastern adjacent districts of Chitral and Gilgit in the far north of Pakistan. The Chitral and Gilgit districts lie south of the Afghanistan’s Wakhan corridor and the Hundu Kush mountains – the natural and traditional border between the Iranian (Avestan) and Indian (Sanskrit) regions.

Zoroastrian texts do tell us that there were various varieties of haoma… and in addition to being found in Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal, they also grow in the Central Asian regions of Tajikistan and Afghanistan where Ancient Zoroastrianism – at the time of the writing of the Avesta – may have had its home. In Nuristan we find ephedra called soma, then sumani in Chitral and som in Gilgit. Moving southeast into Kashmir, we unexpectedly hear ephedra called um and umbar. However, still further east along the southern Himalayan slopes of Nepal ephedra is again called soma. Traditional Zoroastrian references exclusively point to haoma as part of a health and medicinal system. After the Hindu migration south to the warmer areas of the Indian sub-continent where ephedra did not grow, Hindu literature mentions that despite efforts made to import ephedra from northern lands, Hindus began to make substitutions for the original soma-ephedra (cf. The Rgvedic Soma Plant by Rajesh Kochhar). In his paper, Kochhar writes, “Satapatha Brahmalita (4.5.10.2-6) lists the substitutes for use in the ritual, when Soma is not available”, the southern Hindus made frequent substitutions with locally available creepers.”

In The God Who Drank Urine, we have the suggestion that psychosomatic mushrooms might have been the ingredient in soma, and further details of the characteristics and production of soma / haoma:

Much of the Rig Veda (and all of the Sama Veda) is concerned with the ritual consumption of a psychoactive drug called soma. Despite its extensive hymns of praise to this drug (all of the 114 verses of the 9th chapter and several verses elsewhere), the Rigveda alludes to it … What is apparent is that soma was a plant and that its consumption produced an ecstatic mental state but this information hardly narrows the field of candidates as there are thousands of psychoactive plants with psychedelic, intoxicant, narcotic or deliriant effects.

The Vedas also indicate that the plant was found on mountain-sides and gathered by moonlight and that it was consumed in the form of a liquid which was expressed from the plant and then mixed with milk and/or butter. It seems to have been used only as part of a fire-ritual. A golden liquid was expressed from the plant material with “soma-stones”, filtered through wool and collected in a large bowl or “vat”. In the course of this ritual a portion of the soma potion was used as a libation and was “sacrificed” to the flames. The remainder of the soma-liquid was apportioned among the celebrants who received it in individual bowls.

Occasionally in the Vedas, and frequently in post-Vedic literature such as the story of the “churning of the ocean”, the soma-liquid is known as amrita   This is especially so in the literature of Buddhism where the name soma is almost unknown. Soma is also the name of a god, considered by Hindus to be the divine personification both of the soma-drug and of the moon.  The moon was thought to be the receptacle of soma from which it is consumed (presumably over a monthly period) by the gods and ancestors.

… There are three main gods invoked in the Rigveda: Agni (god of fire), Soma (moon-god and personification of the soma drug) and Indra (sky-god and king of the gods). As the Rigveda states that (a) Indra enjoys the effects of soma and that (b) he who consumes the soma potion becomes god-like, perhaps it would not be straining the symbolism too far to say that in these three gods we have the three basic elements of the ritual, Agni (the sacrificial flames), Soma (the sacrificial offering) and Indra (the celebrant, rendered “divine” by the consumption of soma).

That the ritual is of Aryan origin rather than an indigenous Indian one is attested to by the existence of the similar haoma fire ritual in ancient Persia and in the Zoroastrian (Parsi) religion. The Indian fire-ritual was, in later times, taken up by Tantric Buddhists and, as a part of Vajrayana Buddhism, was carried into Tibet, Mongolia, China and even as far as Japan where it is known as goma.”

Moon Lore, by Timothy Harley, [1885], suggests to us the provenance for the East Asian legends of the Rabbit making the elixir of immortality on the Moon:

In Asia it is indigenous, and is an article of religious belief. “To the common people in India the spots look like a hare, i.e. Chandras, the god of the moon, carries a hare (sasa), hence the moon is called Sasin or Sasanka, hare mark or spot.” 75 “Max Müller also writes, “As a curious coincidence it may be mentioned that in Sanskrit the moon is called Sasānka, i.e. ‘having the marks of a hare,’ the black marks in the moon being taken for the likeness of the hare.” 76 This allusion to the sacred language of the Hindus affords a convenient opportunity of introducing one of the most beautiful legends of the East. …

“In former days, a hare, a monkey, a coot, and a fox, became hermits, and lived in a wilderness together, after having sworn not to kill any living thing. The god Sakkria having seen this through his divine p. 61 power, thought to try their faith, and accordingly took upon him the form of a brahmin, and appearing before the monkey begged of him alms, who immediately brought to him a bunch of mangoes, and presented it to him. The pretended brahmin, having left the monkey, went to the coot and made the same request, who presented him a row of fish which he had just found on the bank of a river, evidently forgotten by a fisherman. The brahmin then went to the fox, who immediately went in search of food, and soon returned with a pot of milk and a dried liguan, which he had found in a plain, where apparently they had been left by a herdsman. The brahmin at last went to the hare and begged alms of him. The hare said, ‘Friend, I eat nothing but grass, which I think is of no use to you.’ Then the pretended brahmin replied, ‘Why, friend, if you are a true hermit, you can give me your own flesh in hope of future happiness.’ The hare directly consented to it, and said to the supposed brahmin, ‘I have granted your request, and you may do whatever you please with me.’ The brahmin then replied, ‘Since you are willing to grant my request, I will kindle a fire at the foot of the rock, from which you may jump into the fire, which will save me the trouble of killing you and dressing your flesh.’ The hare readily agreed to it, and jumped from the top of the rock into the fire which the supposed brahmin had kindled; but before he reached the fire, it was extinguished; and the brahmin appearing in his natural shape of the god Sakkria, took p. 62 the hare in his arms and immediately drew its figure in the moon, in order that every living thing of every part of the world might see it.”   …  How many in England, as well as in Ceylon, are described by the monkey, the coot, and the fox–willing to bring their God any oblation which costs them nothing; but how few are like the hare–ready to present themselves as a living sacrifice, to be consumed as a burnt offering in the Divine service! Those, however, who lose their lives in such self-sacrifice, shall find them, and be caught up to “shine as the brightness of the firmament and as the stars for ever and ever.”

According to Indo-European mythical tradition, the falcon brings the nectar soma to humans, and in the Rg Veda, it is the eagle or some large bird that brings the Soma from heaven to earth, and to Indra the warrior-king or warrior-deity.  Find out more about the Vedic and Indo-Saka origins in Isani-and-Iswara vs Izanagi and Izanami: Similarities and common Saka-Sassanian-Sila roots of the royal myths of Indian and Japanese tribes .

“French scholar, Prof. Pinault identifies amśu of Rigveda with anzu of Tocharian. In Tocharian it means ‘iron’. Tocharin language as an Indo-European language has revealed a word anzu in Tocharian which meant ‘iron’. It is likely that this is the word used for soma in Rigveda. I have posted about this in the context of identification (discussed in this blog) of Muztagh Ata of Kyrgystan as Mt. Mujavat (mentioned as a source of soma in Rigveda). It is notable that in Mesopotamian legend of Ninurta, god of war and agricultural fertility hunts on the mountains, Anzu which is the lion-headed Eagle with the power of the stolen Tablet of Destinies. The ‘eagle’ is identified as śyena in Rigveda and Avesta (saena meregh) as the falcon which brought the nectar…”

Of another mythical complex suggesting a provenance from the Indo-Aryan-Iranic region and where sake becomes a substitute for soma, it has been observed [by Indo-European folklorists (Littleton 1981)  that the legend of Susanoo slaying the eight-headed and eight-forked tailed Yamata-no-orochi serpent baited by a sacrificial maiden and vats of Sake offering, echoes the the Vedic tale of of Indra battling the 3-headed monster Vritra, where Indra killed it after giving it soma, wine, and food, (or alternative versions have Indra drinking a large volume of Soma to empower him to face Vritra (in later versions known as Trisiras or Viśvarūpa). The Japanese tale of the serpent’s flooding effects are more local while the Vedic 3-headed monster Vritra (a.k.a. Trisiras or Viśvarūpa) is thought to have kept the Cosmic World Waters of the world captive. Vritra (“the enveloper, is an Asura, also known in the Vedas as Ahi (“snake”)”), is an Asura and known as a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and enemy of Indra. He appears as a dragon blocking the course of the Rivers and is heroically slain by Indra to release the waters or rain.

The question brewing now then, is how did the soma drink turn into the sake drink and arrive in Japan?

Early sake-brewing locations in Japan

Chushojima in Kyoto is reputed to be the Sake capital of Japan, and the area to possess a long history of brewing sake, some say as far back as the 4th century. There is a temple called Toji Temple in Kyoto, just a few kilometres north of Yawata, the “Gekkeikan Okura Kinenkan”,which was once once a sake warehouse, now a sake museum,and operated by one of the largest sake makers in Japan,where, along with “Kizakura-kappa-country” (“Kizakura Sake” breweries).  There used to be an ancient Uji-Yawata route that ran between the two regions, probably transporting sake, among other goods, to the royals and elites in Uji where the Saka-descended lineages were known to have lived.  In Uji, a palace was established in the 4th century by the son of Emperor Ōjin whose real name was Homuda which has a cognate in Iranian Saka language. The Saka lineage remains distinctive in the names of the royal elite lines such as in Princess Sakahito (lit. “Saka perso”n) for various centuries through to the royal clans of the Heian period, and remaining at the helm of shrine traditions:

Princess Sakahito (酒人内親王 Sakahito Naishinnō?, 754 – September 25, 829) was a Japanese princess, born as a daughter of Emperor Kōnin. Her mother was reported to be Princess Inoue—a daughter of Emperor Shōmu, … After his father was enthrouned the emperor of Japan, Princess Sakahito became the 21st Saiō of Ise Grand Shrine in 772, while Princess Inoue and Prince Osabe—a son of Princess Inoue and a younger brother of Princess Sakahito—were confined in 773. — Princess Sakahito

Archaeological and anthropological evidence of the actual Soma substance in Japan is so far lacking, however, the earliest tomb murals show depictions of figures that look like Scythian-like tunic-and-jodphur-wearing warriors along with horses, and what are distinctly hemp plants, which give cannabis, the ingredient in Soma and linen clothing. Bhang is also a hemp drink that has been used as an intoxicant for centuries in the Indian sub-continent since Vedic times. Bhang in India and Nepal is distributed at festivals like the Holi festival. Soma drinking in China is thought to have involved a variant yellow-stalked species of the plant ephedra, see Mahdihassan who thought Indian soma was the bhang drink and that the Chinese haoma was the Chinese ephedra plant known to have been used by Chinese ascetics from around 4,000 B.C. when it was named “hua-ma” after the cannabis hemp plant. It was also around this time when the Aryan warriors (likely to be Saka or Saka-related tribes) were said to have taken to ephedra with a vengeance to stave off fatigue…and who drank it three times a day.  According to Madhihassan, to the hunters, the ephedra stalks resembled arrows, Rigveda X. 89.5. spoke of  “Soma’s thin arrow-sharpened point”.

In Japan, hemp is seen from archaeological records as having been cultivated as food since Jomon times, but became prominent in shrine traditions and as rites of the Saka people, especially with respect to rise of Ise’s worship of the founding goddess Amaterasu:

“At that shrine on the Ise peninsula, the special prayer given for the founding Goddess of Japan is called Taima (cannabis). Further, hemp, salt and rice are the sacred staples that are used as part of all the rites at the shrine. (Yamada) Indeed hemp and mulberry fibber and cloth, and paper made from them, as well as salt, sake, and rice are offered to the gods at the Shinto shrines. This element of purity is stressed again as undyed hemp was an important part for the household of the new bride. …In a shrine ritual, a Shinto priest shakes a short wand with hemp attached called a gohei over the head of patrons in a cleansing ceremony. Originally the actual hemp and mulberry fibbers were attached to a stick but eventually paper made from the same and cut into distinctive zigzag strips and attached to a sakaki branch became standard. The priests dressed in robes made of a sort of a starched hemp paper so as to be pure to perform these purification rites.

The Japanese wound paths around their country as they traveled long distances for salt, enlightenment and pilgrimages. In olden times, these wandering pilgrims and traveling believers were obliged to leave an offering of rice and hemp leaves to the path-side phallic-fertility statues of the She no Kari (protective deities) before embarking on a journey.” — Hemp & Japanese Culture

The sacred Saka-ki tree, is literally known as the Saka Tree or tree of the Saka.  The brewing of rice-sake drink however appears to have been replaced the hemp drink as the favorite drink of the gods.

Like the Hindu Indians, the earliest Japanese Soma drinkers may eventually have found substitutes for soma-ephedra and after finding the plant hard to procure, a brew of sake made from rice became a substitute drink of the gods instead. But the name as a drink of the Saka or Sacae people stuck, hence the similar-sounding Sake.

Recent archaeological finds of Triticum and Cannabis pollen circa 5600 BCE from the Akali Neolithic settlement in East Estonia ( A. Poska, L. Saarse et al., 2006 ) places Cannabis cultivation in the Baltic region much further back into antiquity than even the Corded or Pitted Ware eras. Also, the East Balts ( LWb allele, R1a1a-, Z92 ) had more close contact with “Uralic” (e.g. Kiukainen culture ) and nearby Pit-grave “Yamna Āryan” speaking cultures than the West Balts ( Sanskrit “hastas ” & Lith. “žastas ” ). After 2,750 BCE, the agricultural record intensifies ( Rimantienė et al., 1999 ), as well as beginning East Baltic copper ( varis ) & bronze metallurgy near the Ural Mountains.” The Japanese gene shares some N1c1 haplogroup (Y-DNA) with the Baltics and Uralics. — Eastern and Western Balts (Indo-Europeans)

NOMADS OF THE EURASIAN STEPPES IN THE EARLY IRON AGE” showed that between the 7th~6th c. B.C. significant developments in the North Caucasus’ Iranian-Scythian culture was the result of extensive military incursions and contacts with the Near East:

Excavations revealed monuments that reflect the cultural and religious influence of the highly developed civilizations of the Near East and the Transcaucasus. Scythian rulers tended to imitate the kings of Assyria, Urartu, and Media. The fire temple under the embankment of the Krasnoye Znamya Kurgan 1 was built following the canons of the Iranian temple architecture and some parallels are found in the architecture and building techniques of the Median fire temples. In the absence of any local sources of such temple architecture it can be assumed that some skilled builders came to the North Caucasus. Indicating the presence of Near Eastern craftsmen are such finds as chariot parts with depictions of the goddess Astarte stylized similar to images found on the Assyrian reliefs, gala horse attire, bowls, stools, some elements of clothing, personal adornment including diadems, and earrings…According to Herodotus, Scythian excesses in the Middle East were brought to an end by the Median King Cyaxares (625-585 B.C.) who annihilated the entire Scythian military hierarchy. Following their obliteration, the main body of surviving Scythians returned to the area north of the Black Sea…. But that after the 6th c. B.C. onwards, the cultural influence of local populations of the Eastern region of the central parts of the North Caucasus came to bear upon the Scythians living there.  Greek influences appear there only from the 4th c. B.C. onwards….During its formative period and at the early stage of its existence the Scythian culture was not isolated from the contemporary cultures of the Iranian-speaking nomads of the other regions of Eurasia and shared much in common with them such as their arms, horse harnesses, and animal style art.”

Traces of some of these early elements of this proto-type Scythian culture can still be seen in the Scythian Kofun (kurgan) tumuli culture of Japan (bearing down from the continent via Korea). Apart from the horse sacrifices, Scythian kurgan burial forms, other these material influences include mirrors, spear and sword weapon objects, diadem and earring jewellery, appear to be good early proto-types for 3rd c. -5th c. Kofun tumuli culture, besides providing a possible source for many similar Near Eastern/Indo-European mythical story types in Japan. (Note: Like in Korea, dolmens characterize and densely dot the Western Caucasus region.)  The Scythian elements of Japanese Kofun culture have been attributed to various origins of horse-riding pastoral nomads of Koguryo; Paekche, Gaya and Silla, or to the northern Han Chinese  dynasty culture in the Shandong region from whence Chinese architecture and tomb technology came, or alternatively, from the Western Chinese regions (Xinjiang/Gansu/Yunnan/Sichuan)  or Saka-Central Asian nomads such as the Mongolic or Xiongnu peoples.

Saka-Ashina-Wusun Wolf Clans in Japan

Saka is a common name for Japanese people, more needs to be done to explore the possible contribution of Saka-Scythian tribes to the Japanese genetic pool and early history, or Indo-Iranian ones like Ashina, who are known as the Tribe of Wolf, and to have emerged from Xinjiang into the Altai Mountains, in 12-13 centuries among the Mongolian tribe Chonos, to whom according to legend, the Wolf was supposed to be sacred. Ptolemy (VI, 14, 177 CE) knew an Asman tribe, located east of the Volga who were said to have descended from a leader who had been left in the wild, miraculously saved from hunger by suckling from a she-wolf…the Chinese Han records described them as occupying land that previously belonged to the Saka (Sai). Early Khazar rulers came from the Ashina tribe, out of which the ruling dynasty of the ancient Turks also rose to prominence in the mid-6th century.

The Ashina clan were considered to be the chosen of the sky god Tengri and the Türks venerated their ancestors, annually conducting special ceremonies at the ancestral cave from which they believed the Ashina had sprung. Yet, despite the supreme deity of the Turks was Tengri, the sky god, it was the cult of the wolf that was politically far more important. The Ashinas dynasty named the state they established as Kök-Türk. Asena (Ashina Tuwu) according to tradition is the wolf mother of Bumin, the first Khan of the Göktürk. The recent re-reading of the Bugut inscription, the oldest inscription of the Ashina dynasty, written in Sogdian, by a Japanese team of philologists has proven that the name, known only with the Chinese transcription of Ashina, was in fact Ashinas. It is in fact known in later Arabic sources under this form the term bori, used to identify the ruler’s retinue as ‘wolves’, probably also derived from one of the Iranian languages” (Carter Vaughin Findley).

For others, Sushen was an ancient ethnic group or people who dwelt in northeastern part of China and the Russian Maritime Province, in the area of modern Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, active during the Zhou Dynasty period. They are believed to have been the ancestors of the Jurchen, and subsequently of the Manchu, Nanai and many other Tungusic peoples. Former Dr. Zhu Xueyuan derives the name from the related Manchu word Aisin and the early tribe Wusun (Asin or Osin) pronounced earlier in archaic Chinese, a group of people which he highly considered as a Tungusic people. Zhu asserted that the Xiongnu’s tribe Juqu was evidently related to Juji (old pronouncing of Jurchen), and that the Yuezhi was belonged to another Tungusic tribe named Wuzhe, which could all ultimately traced back to the roots of Sushen. According to Guoyu and Shanhaijing published in the Zhanguo period (476–221 BCE), Sushen was the name of the tribe who lived in Shandong and border of Liaoxi area, and the ancestors of the Mohe or Malgal people.

The wolf is often symbolically linked with mountain kami in Shinto — in Saitama is located the famous Mitsumine Shrine Museum where  the Japanese Wolf, ookami is the kami no tsukai, i.e. the messenger of its gods.

Pertinent here, is a report by Hirata Atsutane (1776-1843) in one of his lectures on “the Superiority of the Ancients” where he states:

In the Ômine and Mitsumine mountains, he avers, “there are many wolves which are called the messengers of the gods of the mountains, and people from other parts of the country come and, applying through the guards of these mountains, choose and borrow one of these wolves as a defence against fir.

The Shinto shrine Mitsumine Jinja sits imposingly at about 1,080 meters, on the northwestern slope of Myoo-ga-take, and was of particular importance in wolf worship and has been associated with both Shugenoo, or traditions of mountain asceticism, and wolf iconography. Mitsumine Jinja stands near the village of Ootaki, in Saitama Prefecture.

The main gods worshiped at the Mitsumine shrine are Izanagi and Izanami, two powerful deities who feature in the Japanese creation myth. Tradition holds that the shrine was built by none other than Prince Yamatotakeru, the legendary unifier of Japan, who, during pacification campaigns in central Honshu, wandered astray of the Karisaka mountain-pass road.

The prince found himself lost until a white-wolf god led him out of the mountains, hence the shrine’s connection with wolves.

Later the prince’s father, the legendary twelfth emperor, Keikoo, retraced his son’s route through the mountains during an imperial tour. According to tradition, after climbing the mountains, the views of the three peaks of Kumotori-yama, Shiraiwa-yama, and Myoo-ga-take so stunned Keikoo that he bestowed on them the name Mitsumine-guu, the “shrine of the three peaks.” Over time the three peaks became objects of worship. Local farmers revered the mountains in their agrarian traditions.

The Chinese characters for ‘Sushen’ (粛慎) can also be found in Japanese documents, in which the characters are annotated and read as Mishihase or Ashihase. According to Nihonshoki, the Mishihase first arrived to Sado Province during the reign of Emperor Kimmei. In 660, Japanese General Abe no Hirafu defeated the Mishihase in Hokkaidō by request from the native inhabitants. Some historians consider that the Mishihase were identical with the Sushen of Chinese records (Source: Sushen (Wikipedia).

Excavated from the Uzumasa Takatsuka Tumulus (was Uzu-masa cognate for Wusun ?) built in the late 5th century were armors, iron arrowheads, iron axes and stirrups. The Wūsūn (Chinese: 烏孫; literally “Grandchildren of The Crow”), according to Wikipedia, were an Indo-European nomadic steppe people who, according to the Chinese histories, originally lived in western Gansu in northwest China near the Yuezhi people. Considerable traces of their impact on surrounding peoples and events were left in Persian, Muslim, Turkic, and Russian sources extending from the 6th century CE to the present. The modern Uysyn who number approximately 250,000 people, are regarded by some as the modern descendants of the Wusun. When the Han empire began their counter-offensive against the Xiongnu, the Wusun had become a bitter enemy of the Xiongnu, after repeatedly being threatened by them. The Wusun were won over to the Chinese in a martial alliance, sealed by a political marriage.

An earlier Uzumasa, Uzumasa-no-Kimi-Sukune, was recorded as the first leader of the Hata to arrive in Japan–during the reign of Emperor Chūai, in the 2nd century CE. According to the epic, he and his followers were greeted warmly, and Uzumasa was granted a high government position.

The Hata are mentioned by name more often than almost any other immigrant clan in the Nihonshoki and are closely connected to the Chinese Han Dynasty, by Prince Achi no Omi, ancestor of the Yamato no Aya clan, descendants of the Chinese Cao Wei Dynasty by the Takamuko clan, and names like the Sakanoue clan, strongly suggest the Saka Central Asian origins.

More immediate and nearby connections can be easily established for the descendants of Baekje (Kudara in Japanese) who sought refuge in Japan, for example the Yamato no Fubito (also called Yamato no Fubito-和史 later given a new title, Takano no Asomi-高野朝臣), Kudara no Konikishi clan, and the Sue clan.

Roughly one hundred years after the first Hata Uzumasa‘s arrival, during the reign of Emperor Ōjin, a Hata prince called Yuzuki no Kimi visited Japan from the Kingdom of Baekje in Korea. He said he had come from Baekje, and he wanted to emigrate to Japan, but that Silla would not permit him to do so. So 120 persons of his clan were staying at Minama. Having enjoyed his experience, he left Japan and returned with members of his clan “from 120 districts of his own land”, as well as a massive hoard of treasures, including jewels, exotic textiles, and silver and gold, which were presented to the Emperor as a gift. There is hot dispute over the Hata clan’s origins, with some believing members to be Korean, others that the Hatas descended from the first Emperor of Qin of the Qin Dynasty, and still others attesting that the clan was originally from Central Asia. According to Ken Joseph Jr, Yuzuki no Kimi means Lord of Yuzuki, who likely hailed from an extant place in Central Asia that is still written 弓月. According to one popular theory,  Prince Yuzuki no Kimi, (弓月君) had become a Korean prince, and emigrated to Japan in 283 with a great number of his countrymen … from China through the Chinese Lelang Commandery then through the Kingdom of Baekje (both on the Korean peninsula). Lelang, near what is today Pyongyang, was said to be the greatest of the Four Commanderies of Han created in 108 BC in the areas captured after the conquest of the Wiman Joseon state (194 BC-108 BC corresponding to modern-day North Korea), by Emperor Wu of the Chinese Han Dynasty.

The Hata are said to have been adept at financial matters, and to have introduced silk raising and weaving to Japan. For this reason, they may have been associated with the kagome crest, a lattice shape found in basket-weaving. During the reign of Emperor Nintoku (313-399), the members of the clan were sent to diverse parts of the country to spread the knowledge and practice of sericulture. Members of this clan also served as financial advisors to the Yamato Court for several centuries. Originally landing and settling in Izumo (source of the Yomi Underworld and Susanoo myth cycle) and the San’yō region. Emperor Yūryaku granted the clan the family name of Uzumasa in 471, in honor of Sake no kimi’s contributions to the spread of sericulture. A number of samurai clans, including the Chōsokabe clan of Shikoku, the Kawakatsu clan of Tamba and the Jinbō clan of Echigo province, claimed descent from the Hata. The Koremune clan, also descended from the Emperor of Qin, were related to the origins of the Hata as well. Prince Koman-O, in the reign of Emperor Ōjin (c. 310), came to dwell in Japan. His successors received the name Hata. In addition, many towns in Japan are named after the clan, such as Ohata, Yahata, and Hatano. The population of Neyagawa in Osaka Prefecture includes a number of people who claim descent from the Hata. The Hata were also claimed as ancestors by Zeami Motokiyo, the premiere Noh playwright in history, who attributed the origins of Noh to Hata no Kawakatsu. According to Zeami’s writings, Kōkatsu, the ancestor of both the Kanze and Komparu Noh lineages, was the first to introduce kagura Shinto ritual dances to Japan in the sixth century.

According to the Kojiki and the Nihonshoki, Ōjin was the son of the Emperor Chūai and his consort Jingū.

From the 6th century onward the former habitat of the Wusun formed part of the western empire of the Göktürks. The Wusun left multiple diaspora islands along their migrations. Wusun principalities are known in the Ordos Desert. A later 7th century commentary to the Hanshu by Yan Shigu says: “Among the various Rong in the Western Regions, the Wusun’s shape was the strangest; and the present barbarians who have green eyes and red hair, and are like macaques, belonged to the same race as the Wusun.” Some scholars, including Chinese scholar Han Rulin, as well as G. Vambery, A. Scherbak, P. Budberg, L. Bazin and V.P. Yudin, noted that the Wusun king’s name Fu-li, as reported in Chinese sources and translated as “wolf”, resembles Proto-Turkic “böri” = “wolf”. Carter V. Findley notes that the term böri is probably derived from one of the Indo-European Iranian languages of Central Asia, while the title beg is certainly derived from the Sogdian baga (“lord”) Other words listed by these scholars include the title “bag/beg” = “lord”, a cognate of Middle Persian baγ (as used by the rulers of the Sassanid Empire), as well as Sanskrit bhaga and Russian bog.  They are mentioned in Chinese historical sources in 436 CE, when a Chinese envoy was sent to their country and the Wusun reciprocated. Their later fate is connected with the Turkic Kaganates and the sudden reversals of fortune that fell on Central Asia and, specifically, the Zhetysu area. Considerable traces of their impact on surrounding peoples and events were left in Persian, Muslim, Turkic, and Russian sources extending from the 6th century CE to the present. The modern Uysyn who number approximately 250,000 people, are regarded by some as the modern descendants of the Wusun. The Uysyn have two branches, Dulat and Sary Uysyn (“Yellow Uysyn”).

We can deduce from the foregoing, that the clans that arrived in Japan via Korea, were formed from alliances of Han Chinese (largely from Lelang and other commandaries) and Indo-Saka-Wusun peoples who possibly took the migratory routes via the west (Kashgar-Xinjiang) to northwest China (Sichuan/Yunnan) Silk Route.

Aryan, Persian , Indo-European or Saka-Scythian ideas of an immortality drink – nectar of the gods

The concept of an immortality drink is attested in at least two Indo-European areas: Greek and Sanskrit. The Greek ἀμβροσία (ambrosia) is semantically linked to the Sanskrit अमृत (amrita) as both words denote a drink or food that gods use to achieve immortality. The two words may be derived from the same Indo-European form *ṇ-mṛ-to- : immortal (n- : negative prefix equivalent to the prefix a- in both Greek and Sanskrit; mṛ : zero grade of *mer- : to die; and -to- : adjectival suffix). A semantically similar etymology exists for nectar, the beverage of the gods (Greek: νέκταρ, néktar) presumed to be a compound of the PIE roots *nek-, “death”, and -*tar, “overcoming” (Source: Ambrosia).

In Indo-European mythical tradition, it is commonly known that the falcon or eagle brings the nectar soma, while in the Greek-Hellenistic-Bactrian tradition, the dove brings the drink:

“French scholar, Prof. Pinault identifies amśu of Rigveda with anzu of Tocharian. In Tocharian it means ‘iron’. Tocharin language as an Indo-European language has revealed a word anzu in Tocharian which meant ‘iron’. It is likely that this is the word used for soma in Rigveda. I have posted about this in the context of identification (discussed in this blog) of Muztagh Ata of Kyrgystan as Mt. Mujavat (mentioned as a source of soma in Rigveda). It is notable that in Mesopotamian legend of Ninurta, god of war and agricultural fertility hunts on the mountains, Anzu which is the lion-headed Eagle with the power of the stolen Tablet of Destinies. The ‘eagle’ is identified as śyena in Rigveda and Avesta (saena meregh) as the falcon which brought the nectar. It is likely that soma as electrum (silver-gold ore) was bought from the traders who brought anzu from Mt. Mujavat. Source: Identification of Soma and notes on lexeme corpora of ancient Indian languages

In Thracian (Proto-Indo-European) mythology, Lycurgus of Thrace, forbade the cult of Dionysus, whom he drove from Thrace, was driven mad by the god and in his fit of insanity, he killed his son, whom he mistook for a stock of mature ivy, and Ambrosia, who was transformed into the grapevine. Amrit, etymologically to the Greek ambrosia, a Sanskrit word that literally means “immortality”, and is often referred to in texts as nectar. The word’s earliest occurrence is in the Rigveda where it is one of several synonyms of soma, the drink which confers immortality upon the gods. Mike Crowley in his article “When Gods Drank Urine” has a readily understandable explanation of what soma was:

“… The Vedas also indicate that the plant was found on mountain-sides and gathered by moonlight and that it was consumed in the form of a liquid which was expressed from the plant and then mixed with milk and/or butter. It seems to have been used only as part of a fire-ritual. A golden liquid was expressed from the plant material with “soma-stones”, filtered through wool and collected in a large bowl or “vat”. In the course of this ritual a portion of the soma potion was used as a libation and was “sacrificed” to the flames. The remainder of the soma-liquid was apportioned among the celebrants who received it in individual bowls.

Occasionally in the Vedas, and frequently in post-Vedic literature such as the story of the “churning of the ocean”, the soma-liquid is known as amrita. This is especially so in the literature of Buddhism where the name soma is almost unknown. Soma is also the name of a god, considered by Hindus to be the divine personification both of the soma-drug and of the moon. The moon was thought to be the receptacle of soma from which it is consumed (presumably over a monthly period) by the gods and ancestors.

Compared to the Brahmanic rituals of later eras this fire-ritual was a very simple affair which has more in common with shamanic practices than the elaborate structures of organized religion. There are three main gods invoked in the Rigveda: Agni (god of fire), Soma (moon-god and personification of the soma drug), and Indra (sky-god and king of the gods). As the Rigveda states that (a) Indra enjoys the effects of soma and that (b) he who consumes the soma potion becomes god-like, perhaps it would not be straining the symbolism too far to say that in these three gods we have the three basic elements of the ritual, Agni (the sacrificial flames), Soma (the sacrificial offering) and Indra (the celebrant, rendered “divine” by the consumption of soma).

That the ritual is of Aryan origin rather than an indigenous Indian one is attested to by the existence of the similar haoma fire ritual in ancient Persia and in the Zoroastrian (Parsi) religion. The Indian fire-ritual was, in later times, taken up by Tantric Buddhists and, as a part of Vajrayana Buddhism, was carried into Tibet, Mongolia, China and even as far as Japan where it is known as goma.”

The moon, as we have seen from the Indian moon-hare legends, was also called Soma after the intoxicating sacred drink used in Vedic sacrifice, and the moon is associated with the hare or rabbit in Vedic lore, as it is considered to run faster than any other graha or cosmic influencer. This indicates the clear connection with Chinese folklore, where the hare is pounding an elixir of immortality… whereas the remoter regions of Korea and Japan have their hare in the moon pounding mochi-rice-cake instead (fertility associations taking over).

Now, the Soma or Amrit features in the “Churning of the Ocean of Milk” (Sanskrit: Samudra manthan) legend in which the gods, assisted by their mortal enemies the asuras, they churn the ocean and create (among other wonderful things) amrita, the nectar of immortality. This allegory of the churning of the Ocean of Milk is found in both the Japanese creation legend of Izanagi and Izanami where the Cosmic Pair churn the briny waters with their spear and bring forth the birth of the Japanese islands, as well as on the famous bas-relief of the Angkor Wat.

Last but not least, there is a possibility that the word sake itself is derived from a Persian or Silk Route variant or version of the Tale of Buluqiya. The Arabian Nights tale (which survives in three Arab-Hebrew versions) recounts the journey of Buluqiya who journeys across desert to subterranean kingdom where Queen Yamlika offers him the drink of juice of magic plant giving eternal youth; and where he is spirited off to meet Sakhr, King of the Demon World who will never grow old and die, for he has drunk from the Fountain of Life. Sake is thus possibly an allusion to the origin of the drink of immortality that makes King Sakhr immortal. We are also reminded that Izanagi threw peaches at the asura demons when in the Land of Yomi-Underworld, and the peach is the fruit of immortality for the Persians as well as the Chinese…it is said that golden peaches of Sarmakand were introduced to the Tang dynasty Chinese court in the seventh century (although botanical studies establish that peaches were being cultivated in the South and Southwest regions of China since antiquity).

Early sake-brewing locations in Japan

Chushojima in Kyoto is reputed to be the Sake capital of Japan, and the area to possess a long history of brewing sake, some say as far back as the 4th century. There is a temple called Toji Temple in Kyoto, just a few kilometres north of Yawata. In Kyoto, Japan, the “Gekkeikan Okura Kinenkan”, once a sake warehouse,now a sake museum, is still operated by one of the largest sake makers in Japan,where, along with “Kizakura-kappa-country” (“Kizakura Sake” breweries). There used to be an ancient Uji-Yawata route that ran between the two regions, probably transporting sake to Uji where the Saka-dominated populations lived. In Uji was established a palace was established in the 4th century by the son of Emperor Ōjin a.k.a. Homuda no Sumeramikoto (Ojin is a posthumous name).

The name Homuda suggests the Saka-Indo-European (and Iranian Scythian) origins for it is synonymous with Kumuda — the Puranic name of a mountain forming the northern buttress of the Mount Meru (i.e. Pamirs Hindu Kush – the land and origin of the Soma). The author of Vayu Purana uses the name Kumuda-dvipa for Kusha-dvipa (Vayu I.48.34-36). ‘ In anterior Epic Age, Kumuda was the name given to high table-land of the Tartary located to north of the Himalaya range from which the Aryan race may have originally pushed their way southwards into Indian peninsula and preserved the name in their traditions as a relic of old mountain worship (O. Thompson, A History of Ancient Geography, London 1965). Thus, the Kumuda-dvipa lay close north to the Pamirs. Lying in the Transoxiana (in Saka-dvipa), this Komuda or Kumuda-dvipa of the Puranic texts is often identified as the ancient Kamboja land which corresponds to the Parama Kamboja referred to in the Sabha Parava of Mahabharata.

We make a fairly certain connection here between the Indo-Iranian Kambojas with Angkor Wat as well for the provenance of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk bas-relief ideology and iconography, has similar connections with the people of Parama Kamboja as the builders of Angkor Wat hailed from Parama Kamboja or were of Parama Kamboja descent (hence the etymology of Cambodia).  Angkor Wat built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century.

Kamboja was the name of the Indo-Iranian tribe and their country originally located in Pamirs and Badakshan in Central Asia but later some clans of this people had moved south and transplanted colonies in eastern and Central Afghanistan also. During early second century BCE, some clans of this people in alliance with the Sakas, Pahlavas, and Yavanas had entered India and spread into Sindhu, Sauvira, Punjab, Rajasthan and Saurashtra/Gujarat from where they spread further into Central, Eastern and Southern India. It is believed that a group from amongst these south-western Kambojas ( i.e. Gujarat/Saurashtra) had sailed to Southeast Asia and founded the Kambuja colony in Mekong valley of Indo-China Archipelago.

It was first pointed by Dr D. B. Spooner that there is a connection between the very name Kambodia and the Persian borderland Kamboja …. The historical connections between Kambodia and the Indo-Iranian Kambojas appear to go back to first few centuries of Christian era. This relates to the time-frame when the Kambojas from Central Asia had out-spread into south-west and southern India in alliance with the Sakas, Pahlavas and the Yavanas etc. Initially, the intercourse between the Kambojas and Indochinese Kambuja was purely commercial but with time it had evolved into political and colonial relationship. In ancient inscriptions of Kambuja, the Kambuja rulers expressly state themselves from the lineage of the Kambujas. … Ancient Sanskrit texts like Kautiliya Arthashastra, Brhatsamhita, Mahabharata and Ramayana etc attest that, besides being formidable warriors (Shastr-opajivins), the ancient Kambojas were also noted as excellent traders , agriculturists and cattle-culturists (varta-opajivins)…Huge trade ships carrying merchandise from Kamboja, Gandhara, Sindhu, Saurashtra etc in western India are said to have been sailing from there directly to southern India, Sri Lanka, south Myanmar and Suvarnabhumi. …  the Kambuja line of kings is stated to have belonged to the solar (Suryavamsa) lineage ” — Source: Kambojas vs. Kambodia (Kamboj Society.com)

Sources and references:

The Japanese “drink of the Gods”:  economic and managerial challenges of sake production in the recent decades by Tatiana Bouzdine‐Chameeva and Mari Ninomiya, a Refereed paper for the 5th International Academy of Wine Business Research Conference, 8‐10 Feb. 2010 Auckland (NZ)

Sake – Drink of the Gods, Drink for the People — a lecture and tasting session presented at Japan Society, New York. NY (by eSake.com)

The History of Sake (Asian Art Mall)

Chushojima – Kyoto, the Sake capitol of Japan / “Nihonshu” – Japanese Sake

Ha0ma or Soma

Chaucer And The Norse And Celtic Worlds by Rory McTurk, p. 28~30 (on the eagle bringing the Soma to Indra)

Who are the Iranic people?

Wolves, by Rowan Hooper

Kamboja vs. Kambodia has an extensive account of the migrations and extent of their presence in Eurasia and Southeast Asia.

Kamboja (name)

Kamboja princes ruled in Cambodia

The Saka (Wikipedia)

“…the Behistun inscription mentions four divisions of Scythians,

  • the Sakā paradraya “Saka beyond the sea” of Sarmatia,
  • the Sakā tigraxaudā “Saka with pointy hats/caps”,
  • the Sakā haumavargā “haoma-drinking Saka”[11] (Amyrgians, the Saka tribe in closest proximity to Bactria and Sogdiana),
  • the Sakā para Sugdam “Saka beyond Sugda (Sogdiana)” at the Jaxartes.

Of these, the Sakā tigraxaudā were the Saka proper.[citation needed] The Sakā paradraya were the western Scythians or Sarmatians, the Sakā haumavargā and Sakā para Sugdam were likely Scythian tribes associated with or split-of from the original Saka.[citation needed]

Saka in South Asian history

Pliny also mentions Aseni and Asoi clans south of the Hindukush. Bucephala was the capital of the Aseni which stood on the Hydaspes (the Jhelum River). The Sarauceans and Aseni are the Sacarauls and Asioi of Strabo.

Asio, Asi/Asii, Asva/Aswa, Ari-aspi, Aspasios, Aspasii (or Hippasii) are possibly variant names the classical writers have given to the horse-clans of the Kambojas. The Old-Persian words for horse, “asa” and “aspa, have most likely been derived from this.”[16]

If one accepts this connection, then the Tukharas (= Rishikas = Yuezhi) controlled the eastern parts of Bactria (Chinese Ta-hia) while the combined forces of the Sakarauloi, Asio (horse people = Parama Kambojas) and Pasinoi of Strabo occupied its western parts after being displaced from their original home in the Fergana valley by the Yuezhi. Ta-hia (Daxia) is then taken to mean the Tushara Kingdom which also included Badakshan, Chitral, Kafirstan and Wakhan. According to other scholars, it were the Saka hordes alone who had put an end to the Greek kingdom of Bactria.

The language of the original Saka tribes is unknown. The only record from their early history is the Issyk inscription, a short fragment on a silver cup found in the Issyk kurgan.

The inscription is in a variant of the Kharoṣṭhī script, and is probably in a Saka dialect, constituting one of very few autochthonous epigraphic traces of that language. Harmatta (1999)[full citation needed] identifies the language as Khotanese Saka, tentatively translating “The vessel should hold wine of grapes, added cooked food, so much, to the mortal, then added cooked fresh butter on”.

What is nowadays called the Saka language is the language of the kingdom of Khotan which was ruled by the Saka. This was gradually conquered and acculturated by the Turkic expansion to Central Asia beginning in the 4th century. The only known remnants of the Khotanese Saka language come from Xinjiang, China.”

The Golden Peaches of Sarmakand: A Study of Tang Exotics by Edward H. Schafer

Moon Lore by by Timothy Harley, [1885], at sacred-texts.com

S. Madhihassan, “Ephedra as Soma meaning hemp fibres with Soma later misidentified as the hemp plant itself”  Indian Journal of History of Science 21(1) 1-6 1986,

See also The History of Ephedra (Ma-huang)

Hempen Culture in Japan (taima.org) |  Hemp & Japanese Culture by Brett Paulhus

A synoptical view of the Kambojas

Hinduism and Buddhism, An Historical Sketch, Vol. 3 – Munseys

“In the seventh century Silla was a center of Buddhist culture and of trade. Merchants of India, Tibet and Persian are said to have frequented its markets and several Korean pilgrims visited India.

“It seems likely that the Maranada and Mukochas the first missionaries to Pakche and Silla were Hindus or natives from Central Asia who came from China and some of the art of Silla is distinctly Indian in style.”

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