China’s Ancient Fair-Haired Mummies

Over 2,000 years ago Roman philosopher, author and navy and army commander, Pliny the Elder, reported seeing a particular race of man in parts of present day China. He described these peoples as having light-colored hair with blue eyes and of speaking an unknown, “uncouth” language. Pliny the Elder also reported the race was exceptionally tall, even by regular human standards.

Like so many Greek and Roman histories, Pliny the Elders account of a tall, blue eyed, fair-haired race in a region of China thousands of years before Europeans were thought to have migrated there, was swept under the rug as fanciful exaggeration.

Then, in the early 1900’s, a group of European explorers unearthed the desiccated (or extremely dried out) bodies of centuries old mummies. Located in the Tarim Basin of present day China the dry, arid conditions of the desert are the reasons the Tarim Mummies are so well preserved.

Perplexing to the explorers were the clearly Caucasoid features and physical attributes the mummies displayed like long bodies, long faces, long noses, full lips and sunken eyes. Hair on their heads was blonde or shades of red and it tended to be long, curly and/or braided.

Over the course of the century more and more of these fair-haired, likely fair-skinned mummies were discovered. In one cemetery alone 29 mummies were unearthed and of these eight displayed Caucasoid features and physical attributes.

Believed to have inhabited the Tarim Basin by the early Bronze Age, these unusual mummies include the “Beauty of Loulan” and the “Cherchen Man”.

The Loulan Beauty was discovered in 1980 and at almost 4,000 years old she is the oldest mummy in the Tarim Basin. She is just over five feet tall and is said to have died around the age of 40. Offerings of food a few personal items, like a comb, were found buried alongside her.

At about 50 years old and measuring in at six feet tall, the Cherchen Man has brown hair tinged with red, a long nose and a reddish colored beard. Buried in a tunic and leggings, DNA that was successfully recovered from his pristinely preserved body signifies a Celtic background.

Many of these Caucasoid mummies with fair hair also show signs of having met their ends at the hands of sacrifice. One blonde-haired woman unearthed was missing portions of her limbs and had even appeared to have had her eyes cut out. Alongside this mummy was the preserved body of a one year old boy. Whether he was the product of a sacrifice as well or was simply buried alive to be with his mother is still a debate.

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