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Ding Hu San, personal picture - This is a very BIG cooking pot! It is Used For Cooking on Special Days and can Feed over 2, 000 People

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Chinese History
Independent Kingdoms - Ancient Cultures
For those following the development of this complex subject in this new section for June 2010, please know that we are now able to offer a better structure:

Ancient cultures - those in existence during the last ice-age - this page
Neolithic cultures - 10, 000 to 3, 000 BC
Contemporary cultures - those occupying a different part of what is now China, and contemporary with the earliest recorded Han Chinese Dynasty's and Empires.

This page deals with ancient cultures, and we begin with two 'Chinese' ones dated from 20, 000 years ago. Other contemporary cultures are either included already, or being researched - so expect this page to grow over the coming months.

Current Content:
* Bon Culture
* Pre-Ba Kingdom
* Vietnam
* 'Outside of the Box' - Dropa and Ham tribes

We feel visual representation is vital to aid explanation, so have referenced a superb set of maps produced by our friend Thomas Lessman:

The Eastern World 600 BC
Image: China circa 550bc
Courtesy Thomas Lessman:


Certainly the Bon Culture of modern Tibet, that previously came from perhaps Tajikistan and the Northern Kashmir region was immensely important. However, The Bon Culture gives rise in later years to a religious divide that crosses ethnic boundaries. The Ba Kingdoms of Chongqing remained outside of mainline Chinese history for millennia. Both Bon Culture and Ba Kingdom trace their ancestry back to around 20, 000 BC; and to West and East of the Tibetan plateau and Taklamakan dessert respectively. Millennia later, as these two Kingdoms move and consolidate

Pre-Ba Kingdom of ChongQing

Whilst historians focus on the modern view of Chinese history, let us not forget that one of the very earliest Chinese cultures was in fact based around modern Chongqing, and archaeology dates this community back 20, 000 years to the Old Stone Age. As this culture is not from the Yellow or Yangtze Rivers, it is ignored by historians as being a predecessor of modern China. However, it is in the geographical centre of modern China, and I am sure it deserves consideration within Chinese history.

There is little evidence of the Ba Kingdom itself flourishing before 2000 BC, however this does not preclude other kingdoms and civilizations that were their documented forerunners. This is mainly due to the fact that there are no written records, and evidence comes solely from archaeology.

Were the Ba People Aboriginals of the Three Gorges?
Through years of salvaging excavation, great progress has been made in archaeological research of the Ba people, but it is still not decided whether the Ba people were natives of the Three Gorges or immigrated from other places.

Historical materials show that the Ba people originated from Hubei.

According to History of Eastern Han, Wuxiang, chieftain of the Ba tribe, "was born in the Wuluo Zhongli Mountains (near Changyang, Hubei Province)." He became the leader of the Ba people because of his bravery and wisdom. He was the legendary "Linjun". In 1989, about 10,000 Ba relics, including tortoise and oracle bones, were unearthed in an area of 400 square meters in Xianglushi, not far from the Wuluo Zhongli Mountains.

Another saying holds that the Ba people came from Yunmeng area of the Jianghan Plain. Ren Naiqiang, a famous archaeologist and Tibetologist, wrote in his book Huayang Guozhi Jiaobu Tuzhu [Records of the States South of Mt. Hua Collated, Supplemented with Illustrations and Annotations]: "The capital (of the Ba) is Baqiu, which is located north of today's Yueyang, Hunan Province."

However, archaeological findings in recent years could not rule out the possibility that the Ba people were original inhabitants of the Three Gorges area. According to Wang Fengzhu, deputy director of Three Gorges Office of Hubei Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, some kettles and round-bottom pots have been dug out in dozens of Xia and Shang ruins in the Xiling Gorge (one of the Three Gorges), and they are from the same time and of the same size with that unearthed in Xianglushi. Most of them feature local Ba flavours. If these ruins are proved to belong to the Ba people, archaeologists can conclude that they were aboriginals living in the area between the Qingjiang River and the Three Gorges.

Deng Hui, deputy director of the Wuhan Cultural Relics Research Institute, believes that the small area of Xianglushi might have been the centre of the Ba community, but their activities should have extended to a wider area. Deng said the legendary story about the war between Linjun and the Goddess of Salt probably reflects the transition of the Ba society from matrilineal to patriarchal.

We will return to the Ba people again when looking at the first millennium BC.

Bon Culture

Modern Tibet cannot be disassociated from the Bon Culture of 20, 000 years ago. It is impossible. However, the Bon Culture originated outside of modern Tibet, to the north and west, and ... Uh-ho! we end up somewhere near to northern Kashmir and the skirting the Badakstan pass into modern Tajikistan. Perhaps looking at this from through the eyes of non-aggressive peoples, you could consider their personal choice was to avoid bloodshed and subjugation by moving to less hospitable climes? This is a Culture, and not any specific tribe, so lets start again with what we know of their beliefs and heritage.

The centre of the Bon world is Mount Kailash, which is located to the northwestern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. This mountain represents the actual centre of the eastern or male world, as the Temple of the Sun within Lake Titicaca (Border of Peru and Bolivia in the High Andes) represents the female antipodes of the world - at least according to the most very ancient of beliefs (that are not pagan in origin).

Mount Kailash is a modern pilgrimage for most eastern religions, and sacrosanct in its dominance of eastern religious thinking. It is set at very high altitude, the base being around 4, 500 meters above sea level (14, 760' in British English). At this altitude normal people can journey there, but it remains at the outer extremes of average human endurance (Collectively around 4, 100 metres; and increasing exponentially with height above sea level). The mountain is also quite spectacular and unique.

Returning to human demographics, we note the Bon Culture eventually moved south and eastwards, growing as it did so. Therefore it has become synonymous with the Tibetan Plateau as a whole; although in fact its sphere of influence probably gave rise to the earliest forms of Christianity in the Middle East, and Hinduism to the South. Later it is directly related to Buddhism, and has a profound impact on that of Chinese Buddhism, and especially analogous Taoist (Daoist) beliefs.

So what we are essentially dealing with here is an ancient doctrine that probably spawned such diverse religions as Christianity, Hinduism, and any religion or system of governance that purports support for 'One God, or 'One Ruler of heavenly authority'. Certainly many Christian and Hindu fables are contained within Bon doctrine ... but this it not an aggressive religion, as most of its counterparts have proved over millennia to be. Comparably, most eastern religions are styled as non-aggressive lights along the path of life.

The Bon religion is still followed to this day in parts of Tibet, and we will pick up their more recent history in another section. This item is simply to let you know they have been around for a very long time!


Vietnam’s lush northern river valleys presented the perfect backdrop for civilisation to blossom. Archaeological digs reveal the existence of Stone Age man 300,000 years ago, and cave dwellers and agriculture appeared by 10,000 BC.

Patches of civilisation popped up prior to the 1st millennium BC around the Red River, central Vietnam and the Dong Nai River Delta. These were the ancient Viet people, who began paddy farming, irrigation projects and developing handicraft skills in the area that evolved into the Van Lang state. more...

Dropa and Ham

In 1995 China released the following news report::
"In the province of Sichuan, which lies on the eastern border of the Baian-Kara-Ula mountains, 120 people of a previously ethnologically unclassified tribe have been discovered. The most important aspect of this new tribe is the size of its people: No taller than 3 ft. 10 in., the smallest adult measuring only 2 ft. 1 in! This discovery might be the first hard evidence on the existence of the Dropa/Dzopa - a people whose predecessors are said to have come from the stars."

Today, the isolated area between Tibet and China is inhabited by two tribes of people who, in fact, call themselves the Dropa and the Ham. Once enemies, these two tribes now co-exist peacefully. Anthropologists have been unable to categorize either tribe into any other known race; they are neither Chinese nor Tibetan. Both tribes are of pygmy stature, adults measuring between 3-foot-6 and 4-foot-7 with an average height of 4-foot-2, and body weights of 38 to 52 pounds.

They are yellow-skinned with thin bodies and disproportionately large heads, corresponding to the skeletal remains found in the caves in 1938. They have sparse hair on their bodies and have large eyes that are not Asian in aspect, but have pale blue irises. The Dropa people and their talking stone disks remain as mysterious today as they did in the late 1930s. Many researcher feel that the Dropa stone disks are definitive proof of an alien race that "came from the stars."

You may take this with a pinch of salt, but can find the full article here
This information is as supplied by Wikipedia, as dated March 2009 or later, and/or other reliable sources.

Maps (Unless stated otherwise) are provided in association with Thomas Lessman

Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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