The Buddhist connection to Norway

Am I the only person on the internet interested in the connection between the Norwegian stavkirke and the Thai temple?


Perhaps not. A google search for “stavkirke” and “Thai” turns up a thousand hits.  Three of them are from a discussion that ended up with the above photo from Norway posted here. The rest are a bunch of predictable travel sites that include both Norway and Thailand. And…oh ho!…a bunch of people talking DNA genetics on a closed forum of a website called But through the miracle of Google cache, we can find out what they were saying here and here.

danish-bog-man-grauballemandenThrough that discussion we also find a link to the Danish bog man–a closeup of his face that you don’t usually see in photos (click to enlarge). He does look very awfully Asian. I don’t remember him looking so Asian, and my Danish relatives seemed to think he was some sort of ancestor, but maybe I was a bit creeped out when I saw him, what with him being so dead and everything.

oseburg-ship-837-pixelsThen of course the DNA forum had to discuss the Aesir and Vanir and their war and what peoples might have migrated and whether they could have been Asian. The Oseberg ship from 834 has long been thought to be the burial of the legendary Queen Asa. But now DNA testing shows one of the women in the burial came from the Black Sea area. Apparently geneticists are now in the vanguard of research into migrations.

Then there’s this wiki in Norwegian. The comment posted with it says:

That there have been practises similar to Buddhism in Scandinavia is supported in a book called ” The Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the Various Nations” (1725), the illustrations actually show how they are offering to a statue with crowned head and amulet on chest, holding a stick (Vajra?). Picart illustrated Buddha in similar ways for instance in India and Ceylon, see pictures in added site.

A pre-Christian Scandinavian deity Picart (1725).

These engravings likely reflect the remains of Buddhism in Scandinavia and Buddhism might be a forceful explanation of why it took so long to Christianise parts of the population in the Nordic areas.

It is known that Picart was a propagandist of Christianity and often made rather ridiculing illustrations and descriptions of people practising other religions.

You can see examples in the following site:

Take a look at the images in this URL to see for instance how he illustrated Ceylonese worshiping of religious deities, and how he illustrates worshipping of Shiva in India. Picart, 1723.…art/picart.html

Worshipping of the God Thor in Scandinavia. This is an illustration of a pre-Christian Deity (Picart 1725). A God carved in stone photo by Worm-Petersen (1914), this was likely Thor. It seems like Thor was another God than the Buddha-like God in the first engraving of this posting.

Thor was described as the God of the Goths or Geats (ref. “Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus” by Olaus Magnus, 1555). The Goths mixed with the people of origin here, that is known from the Norse Mythologies. The mix of European and Asian people likely resulted in and is reflected in the Vikings culture of Scandinavia. It seems like the Saami people are mix of the old peoples of Scandinavia, Europeans and Asians as well as with newer people migrating to these areas. The Goths were far back in history more likely of South Asian origin, however they might have been a 50:50 mix of southern and eastern Asian if they for instance had Khotan / Kushan origins. If the Goths mixed with the Scandinavian indigenous people and these later became the Vikings, then the Goths must have been the ones that came with Buddha and Buddhist ornaments. Was Thor part of Buddhism or did he belong to the first people of Scandinavia?

It seems like there is need to look into Iron Age history in Scandinavia (Norway and Sweden) to understand what happened with the “Buddhist” Vikings that always have been described as Pagan. There is something is clearly missing in our story here. There are good reasons to question the pagan-descriptions of the Vikings. I doubt the correctness of Snorre when it comes to offering humans, to my knowledge that kind of offerings do not excist within Buddhist practises. Telling such awful stories might have been part of a pro-Christian campaign, in the same way as we later see with for instance Picart.

According to Wikipedia-sources it is told that many farms were built between 300-600 CE in the southern and western areas of Norway. That fits well with the “Buddhist” Vikings that seem to have brought new agricultural technologies here. However this article tells that something seems to have happened, because these farms were left during 600 CE. During 700eds a new agricultural expansion starts in the same areas. With and increase in the number of inhabitants in south, mid and northern Norway.

Is the timing of new immigrations to Norway twisted, in the same way as the truth about religious practices?

The same trust in our official history is reflected in the following book:
“Archaeology and World Religion” by Timothy Insoll (2001)
In Scania in southern Sweden, for example, the long-standing pagan practice of making lake and bog-offerings appears to have been abandoned in the sixth century, before the introduction of Christianity. This change in ritual practice roughly coincided with the introduction of timbered halls as the most prominent type of building in local settlements, and thus could be related to changes in the local social structure, which may in turn have laid the foundations for the subsequent adoption of Christian beliefs by the elite (Fabech 1999:459).” (End of quote from “Archaeology and World Religion” by Timothy Insoll, 2001)

My Question is: Then why does the Timbered halls (Stavkirke) have Stupa-temple similar constructions and clearly Asian ornaments that fits well with the Viking symbolism from about 400 CE?

What has actually happened? (I do not have an answer but there must be some historical deceptions around).

Christianisatity triumphed early as a religion at least for the power elites in some Nordic areas, however the Christian religion does not seem to have affected the kings and queens buried in Oseberg or Gokstad in Norway during the 800eds CE. Clearly a religion with Buddhist symbolism have been present in Sweden and Norway at least from 400 CE or earlier and until about 900 – 1000 CE . We know that Asians were present in the Nordic as early somewhere between c. 300 – 50 BCE, referring to the finding of a bogman called Grauballeman / Grauballemanden in Denmark, so they likely have come here well before 400 CE. I do not know if they ever tested his haplogroup.

The Norse mythologies were written by Snorre, the politician, after new populations had settled in. Snorre died in 1240 CE. Were these myths partly constructed political tools rather than fairly reflecting an old history tradition? Did the camouflaging of Buddhism in the Nordic start with Snorre? Mythology has been a known and often used powerful political tool for a long time.

What a great rant–I love these geneticists, whoever they are.  If only I could understand the genetics they’re talking about.

The group then goes on to discuss pre-Christian religious practices.  They get to the inevitable comparisons between Indra’s Vajra and Thor’s hammer.

thorshammer2 thorshammer3 vajra_bell_tibet1

What did I leave out?–oh, a list of eras in which the Buddhists sent out missionaries and to which countries, including Syria and Macedonia. Silk road theory-yes!

Then the geneticists did something every other group on every other thread does–they went off topic.  One of them mentioned hair color, another posted a map link to blond hair distribution, another disagreed with hair color being genetic marker, and anther protested at being accused of posting a map since it was someone else who did that.  Then someone posts this–uff da!–and you would think that a hissy fit with this eloquence would halt the discussion.  But no. It merely adds fuel to the fire:

It is not correct to say that men here in the Nordic with R1a or R1a1 are Asian, but the origin of their genes might be Asian. The same is true for R1b and additionally for men from Finland, they have extreme high percentages of Eastern Asian genes (haplogroup N). However men with haplogroup N in Finland are not from East Asia. It is a long time since a fraction of their ancestors migrated to the Nordic.

Lets make it clear – once and for all - this is a discussion about the origin of haplogroups, not about living people, but genetic and cultural ancestors far back in time.

Eugenics was a quasi-science made such correlations of features such as eye, skin, hair, nose form, skull form and stature etc. and generalized it to group averages. All of that resulted in crude simplifications and racism. Eugenics overlooked variations within groups. There are good reasons why such approaches are called “quasi-sciences” and cannot be considered more than that. Referring to haplogroups is not racist, because it is only a small fraction of our genes that is reflected in them. That is why white men can have Sub-Saharan African haplogroups and vice versa. However the probability for being East Asian looking is higher if you have a haplogroup with origin in East Asia. Please do not make this a dicussion about looks. Eugenics is not very interesting.

What a free-for-all!  Apparently going off topic is not encouraged among these folk as it is elsewhere. Finally they started a new thread for the “new” topic and there we lose the geneticists’ discussion in a password protected link.  Ah, those rowdy geneticists!  But we do have the map from this intriguing cartography website:


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9 Responses to “The Buddhist connection to Norway”

  1. Crown, A.J.P. Says:

    Thanks, this is great, Nijma, very interesting. I didn’t find any of this when I looked. It’s speculation about lots of different times that I know nothing about, and the Norwegian stave churches are quite late (1100 a.d.-ish) compared to all the other stuff. It sounds like the geneticists should talk to some historians and anthropologists in order to fix a few things in the mapping of what happened when and to whom — that’s not clear at all.

  2. Nijma Says:

    A.J.P. Crown,

    The geneticists’ comments I found are less than 30 days old. I don’t know exactly how google cache works, but I think it just temporarily saves a bit of what someone has looked at on the web. Just in case, I tucked a copy of both threads into the January 2005 archives.

    Yes, it does seem like the subject is too big for just one discipline. They need another forum with a wider expertise. Architects too.

    There is a guy in Wisconsin who knows how to build a stavekirke, and probably others who could compare construction methods between the two building types and tell more about whether the similarity was really accidental or not. If you think about it, in really snowy climates, you see steep roofs, not because the cultural groups are necessarily are connected, but because it is one reaction to a common situation. Maybe the stavekirke/temple similarity has a similar underlying reason.

    The conspiracy theory about the lack of knowledge in the 600-800 historical period (Queen Asa’s time) I didn’t think too much of, though. I remember reading somewhere that prior to the rise of Islam (the Islamic calendar starts in 622) the Vikings traded all over, but the instability in that region created by Arab expansion caused a disruption of trade routes and corresponding economic depression in Scandinavia that lasted centuries. The effect shows up in the distribution pattern of Scandinavian coin deposits.

  3. Nijma Says:

    Thank you, Jørgen Jensenius. I wish I could read Norwegian, but the English pages are interesting.

  4. sean Says:

    make a i heart egpty design for
    i would like to buy one

  5. Dan Hopkins Says:

    The word God is used first by the Goths, who were named after their hero Guthan, or Gutam. Siddhartha Godama was said to have blue eyes, most texts mention his dark hair color, and several state Siddhartha, who they call Buddha, or Tathagata, had golden, even purple, or sunset red tinged hair, this would suggest a connection with other red heads, from every corner of the globe, just as the word Saka appeared nearly over the whole world, except for the land down under, the original inhabitants were probably dravidians who at one point occupied the same area in the southern Himalayas. Some ancient Buddhists believed Maitreya to be of a foreign race, he is known as the white one, or the white lotus, Pundarika, both of these words = 666 (Hbr. and Grk.) , but I do not believe white to mean skin, rather it just meant pure, as in the Gnostic Jesus who turns all the colored rags into white rags, also found first in the Buddhist texts, varna–

    • Nijma Says:

      In Nepal they have a White Tara and a Green Tara. I wonder what that’s about. For that matter, there’s a convention for portraying Krishna with a blue face.

      Some Scandinavian rulers had the designation “the black” after their names. It referred to a dark brown hair color.

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