Monday, 24 July 2017

Slipped Discs

In January 1967 the Soviet Union began issuing Sputnik, a monthly English language imitation of the Readers’ Digest, though of course written from a Communist viewpoint (and without any jokes or humorous anecdotes). I have been unable to obtain access to a copy of the first issue (though I do have a copy of the second, which I chanced upon in an antiquarian bookshop thirty years ago), but it is known that it contained an article Vyacheslav Zaitsev which came to be very widely cited, and a version is available on the internet, although this does not quite correspond to what was quoted of it by some subsequent writers. The gist is as follows:

In 1938, the Chinese archaeologist Chi Pu Tei, who was exploring caves in the Bayan-Kara-Uula mountains on the borders of China and Tibet, found a total of 716 granite discs, something like gramophone records (although there are, as just stated, differences between the different accounts, all agree upon the figure of 716); they even had a hole in the centre, and bore spiral inscriptions. There were also graves of people with small bodies but large heads in the immediate vicinity. For many years the writing on the discs was inexplicable, but eventually, in 1962, a team led by the scientist Tsum Um Nui was able to decipher it. The result was so shocking that the Peking Academy refused publication.

The authors of these scripts stated that 12,000 years ago their spaceship had crash-landed on Earth, and that they were unable to take off again. The local Earthlings had been hostile and killed most of them off (despite possessing interstellar spacecraft, they had no technology to defend themselves against Stone Age tribesmen), so that these messages were written by the few survivors. This seemed to be confirmed by local legends that slender yellow beings who descended from the skies were hunted down by the ‘men with the quick horses’ (though it is unlikely that horses were domesticated as long ago as 12,000 years). Nevertheless, the local Ham and Dropa tribes are frail, stunted men, only four foot two inches (or five foot three inches) in height, who “have defied any type of ethnic or racial classification, and the history of their origin is shrouded in mystery.”[1]

The implication is that they are the survivors of the stranded aliens.[2] Another version has it that the Peking Academy of Prehistory did eventually publish the paper under the title ‘The grooved script concerning space-ships which, as recorded on the discs, landed on Earth 12 thousand years ago’. [3] The discs, or some of them, were at an unspecified date sent to Moscow for examination. In traditional Chinese religion, small discs with central holes are sacred objects, but they are normally – at least those in English museums – made of jade or marble. These, however, were granite with a high cobalt content, and “had a high vibration rhythm, which led to the conclusion that they had been exposed to very high voltages at some time.”[4]

There are oddities to this story, even if one approaches it with a completely open mind with regard to the possible existence of extraterrestrials. How could an alien script be deciphered, when we cannot even read Etruscan? If the Peking Academy did not publish it, how is known about, or if they did, why are we not given a precise reference?

Gordon Creighton
Gordon Creighton, a contributor to, and subsequently editor of, Flying Saucer Review, had been a diplomat in China, and then worked at the Royal Geographic Society in London, where he specialised in studying this particular area of Central Asia. He was a linguist of remarkable talent: he translated French, Spanish and Portuguese UFO reports into English, which might otherwise have never become known to Anglophone ufologists. When John Harney met him, he was teaching himself Tibetan with the aid of a Russian-Tibetan dictionary, and in an article in Flying Saucer Review in the early 1980s he referred to “my newest hobby – Arabic”.

Since Creighton knew nothing of the above through his work at the Royal Geographic Society, in February 1968 he decided to do an independent investigation. A letter to a Russian ufologist produced the information that Zaitsev had derived the whole story from Das Vegetarische Universum, “an obscure vegetarian affair” in the Black Forest of Southern Germany. (It has also been asserted, though, that this was the newsletter of Vegetaria Universa, “which claimed that the Universe is made entirely of vegetables.”[5]) He wrote further letters to Das Vegetarische Universum, the Novosti News Agency in Moscow, the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Peking, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Taiwan, none of whom replied. “I also buttonholed several visiting Chinese professors and academic types, and received some more than usually astonished glances when I whispered the tale of the spindly-legged spacemen who had dropped in on China all that long time ago.”

He observed that “Neither TsumUm, nor Nui are monosyllables used in the transliteration of standard Chinese (Mandarin) of Peking, though they might perhaps be understandable in one of the more outlandish minor dialects.” The name Ham is a garbled rendering of Kham, the people of eastern Tibet. So far from being small and stunted, they are noted for being very tall. In a country (pre-1950) where one quarter of the population were monks, there were inevitably monk criminals, and hence the men of Kham were employed as monk policemen. Dropa, which should properly be transliterated as Drok-Pa, dwell in the highlands of northern Tibet, and are, again, a very sturdy race.[6]

This might have been the end of the affair, but 1978 saw the publication of Sungods in Exile, attributed to Karyl Robin-Evans, and ‘Edited by David Agamon’.[7] It began with photographs of what appeared to be a metallic disc (without a central hole) engraved with a strange script, a ‘grey’ alien, a flying saucer, some sort of reptile, and two tentacled creatures resembling those on the cover of the paperback edition of John Wyndham’s sci-fi novel The Kraken Wakes. This was asserted to have been purchased in northern India in 1945 by a British army officer named Lolladoff, which is not a real surname, any more than Karyl is a real Christian name. After the war he returned to Oxford, and showed the disc to Robin-Evans, who was supposedly another professor there, though inquiries have shown that the university was and is unaware of either man. They described it in articles in the (non-existent) Journal of Comparative Ethnology. This produced correspondence which asserted that similar plates belonged to the Dzopa [sic] people of north-eastern Tibet, so Robin-Evans decided to go there and investigate for himself. Tibet was closed to foreigners at that time, but strangely he had no trouble in entering the country.[8]

Agamon, in editing the text, wrote that he was omitting most of the lengthy travel sequences, including only extracts, like this:

“Once when we were travelling in a long and wide valley at the usual pace of a yak, that is, about two miles an hour, a lightly dressed man appeared above and behind us on the cliff which ran parallel to our path some half-mile away. Within five minutes he came up with us and within another five had passed out of our sight. That is, this man, on foot and without visible efforts was (since I estimate that I could see four miles of the cliff) travelling at something like 24 m.p.h. Again, my servants were interested, but not amazed, though even in Tibet such a sight is rare. They said that this was a lung-gom-pa, that is, one who by long years of meditation and exercises under the direction of a previous master, had come to a state where his body’s weight was reduced almost to nothing; the most of advance of these men, they said, were obliged to wear great heavy chains wrapped around them to keep themselves from floating away.”

The above is strikingly similar to the account of lung-gom-pas in Alexandra David-Neel’s Magic and Mystery in Tibet, so much so that Robin-Evans might as well have simply copied it from her book, rather than troubling himself to travel halfway around the world for the experience.[9]

Eventually he arrived at the territory of the Dzopa, who were indeed short, about four feet tall, and at first he thought that they were children. They obligingly instructed him in their language, of which he gives some details, of which it will suffice here to note that their word for penis was hynapazay, and hynpsapazay was the vagina. In due course they informed him - as is routine in such narratives, he was able to recall long conversations verbatim - that they were not originally of this world, but came from a planet orbiting Sirius. It is worth mentioning that Sirius is an A type star, and thus, according to conventional theory, has no planets, something overlooked by Ancient Astronaut authors. They came to Earth in a spaceship “twenty thousand of your years ago”. [So far as I know, the phrase “thousands of your Earth years ago” first occurred in the film Devil Girl from Mars, 1954, and it should have been left there.] There was then no intelligent life here, but there were ape-like creatures who were sufficiently like themselves that their men went among them, clubbing the males and raping the females.

In the year 1014 another Dzopa ship came to Earth, and observed from orbit that there were now intelligent beings on this planet. They realised that the previous explorers had departed, “leaving some of them pregnant with half-breed foetuses of whom some at least must have inherited the space-explorers’ intelligence in earth bodies . . . There then are the ‘sons of God’, founders of civilizations, of whom so many ancient legends tell.” Although their spacecraft were intended to function for thousands of years, something went wrong with this one, and it crash-landed. The wreckage now formed the Royal Hall, where a female ruler known as the Gyalma held court. Some of the flying saucers that had been on board this ‘mother ship’ (which was cigar-shaped, like that in Flying Saucers Have Landed [10]), were carried out and used as homes.

One night, a generation earlier, they had seen a great light in the sky, which they believed might be a rescue ship. But suddenly it disappeared. This, apparently, was another crash, causing the explosion at Tunguska in Siberia on 30 June 1908, which puzzled Russian scientists.[11] Evidently, Dzopa spacecraft were not made like they used to be. Robin-Evans had by now got a Dzopa woman named Loren pregnant, and since he was so much larger than her, he was afraid that the oversized foetus would kill her, and he be held responsible for her death, so he hastily departed. As proof of the veracity of the book, at the end is an out of focus picture of a couple in oriental dress, said to be two of the Dzopas, but there are no photographs of the crashed spaceship or other wonders.

The ‘sons of God’ refers to a passage in the Book of Genesis (6:1-4) that was quoted by Erich von Däniken in Chariots of the Gods?: “And it came to pass . . . That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair: and they took them wives . . . There were giants in the earth in those days: and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”[12] (But if the ‘sons of God’ were the diminutive Dzopas, then would not the Bible have said that there were midgets on the earth in those days?)

One suspects, though, that a primary source for the author was the thirteenth chapter of Patrick Moore’s Can You Speak Venusian?, which discusses the Tunguska event (that is, whether it was merely a large meteorite, or an alien spacecraft whose atomic motors exploded); the theory that earth was once visited by beings from Sirius; and von Däniken’s ‘fertilization theory’, which Moore summarised thus: “. . . the story began in the very remote past, when an unknown space-ship arrived on Earth (possibly to refuel) and found primitive life-forms here. No doubt from a spirit of pure scientific inquiry, the space-men fertilized some female members of the primitive Earth species, and went away well satisfied. Much later they came back, and found that their efforts had resulted in a general increase in local intelligence.”[13]

A letter in Fortean Times in 1995, signed ‘David Gamon’, said of Sungods in Exile that: “The author of this leg-pull received correspondence about it from as far away as Kiev.” Some further details have since been posted on the internet. It is said that Gamon wanted a name that would be an anagram for ‘load of balls’, but finding this difficult he settled upon ‘Lolladoff’. It is probably not a coincidence that one can rearrange the middle letters of ‘Robin-Evans’ to get bovine, signifying that the tale is a pile of cow droppings. 

Nevertheless, the original version has been resurrected in a more recent book, The Chinese Roswell: UFO Encounters in the Far East from Ancient Times to the Present, by Hartwig Hausdorff.[14] He boasted that he had new information: in 1974, Austrian engineer Ernest Wegener came across two of the discs in the Banpo Museum in Xi’an. He could recognise the hieroglyphs, but they were partly crumbled away, though it seems unlikely that this would happen to granite. The manager, a woman, knew only that they were unimportant ‘cult objects’. He photographed them both, but the spiral grooves could not be seen, partly because his Polaroid camera had an integrated flash.

In 1994 Hausdorff and Peter Krassa (the biographer of Erich von Däniken) interviewed the current manager of the Banpo Museum, Professor Wang Zhijum, who told them that the woman had been called away from her job just a few days after Wegener’s visit, and both she and the discs had disappeared. He then said: “The stone discs you have mentioned do not exist, but being extraneous elements in this museum for pottery ware, they have been dislocated.” This demonstrates that the Chinese government are covering up the truth, so that, as with the American Roswell, the failure of anyone to find confirmatory evidence proves that the story must be true.

In later life Gordon Creighton became paranoid and obsessed with conspiracy theories. Among other things he maintained that a secret government agency was instructing libraries in Britain to remove UFO books from their shelves. This produced a response from John Rimmer, a senior librarian himself, who said that he had never in his whole career received any such instructions, but the only result was that Creighton cancelled his exchange arrangement of Flying Saucer Review with Magonia.

Almost his last act was a combination of his two primary interests, languages and conspiracies. He wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph, observing that the word Viagra means ‘tiger’ in Hindustani. They did not print it, because, he claimed, all of the country’s newspapers had government orders not to publish letters by him.

[1] Robin Collyns, Did Spacemen Colonise the Earth?, Mayflower, 1975, p.153.

[2] W. Raymond Drake, Gods and Spacemen in the Ancient West, Sphere, 1974, pp.102-3; curiously, he did not mention the story in Gods and Spacemen in the Ancient East, also Sphere, 1974, where it would have been more appropriate.

[3] Peter Kolosimo, Not of this World, Sphere, 1971, p.225.

[4] Erich von Däniken, Return to the Stars, Souvenir Press, 1970, p.110.

[5] John Grant, A Directory of Discarded Ideas, Corgi, 1983, p.10. He says that he had this from A. T. Lawton, a writer on hypothetical extraterrestrial life, who however I suspect had misunderstood the phrase Das Vegetarische Universum.

[6] Gordon Creighton, ‘But I Read It in a Book!’, in Charles Bowen (ed.), Encounter Cases from Flying Saucer Review, Signet, New York 1977, pp.85-94. It had originally appeared in Flying Saucer Review, Vol.19, no.1, January-February 1973.

[7] Sungods in Exile: Secrets of the Dzopa of Tibet, Neville Spearman, 1978; Sphere Books, 1980.

[8] Peter Hopkirk, Trespassers on the Roof of the World, Murray, London, 1982, gives some idea of the difficulty in getting into Tibet in those days, although a few, such as Alexandra David-Neel, did succeed. It was also difficult, in the immediate wake of the Second World War, for the English to leave Britain.

[9] Alexander David-Neel, Magic and Mystery in Tibet, Souvenir Press, London, 1967, pp.199-216.

[10] The author had probably read the revised edition, Futura, 1977, since it is evident that, although Robin-Evans had supposedly died in 1974, in fact he had never really been alive, and the actual author utilised some works that had appeared shortly before his own.

[11] Rupert Furneaux, The Tungus Event, Panther, St. Albans, 1977.

[12] Erich von Däniken, Chariots of the Gods?, World Books, London, 1971, pp.54-55.

[13] Patrick Moore, Can You Speak Venusian?, Star, 1976, p.114.

[14] Translated from the German, New Paradigm Books, 1998.