Unraveling the background to the Africoid features and knotted hair of the Buddha

Michael Eli Dokosi October 15, 2019
Buddha via quora.com

Siddhartha Gautama (“the Buddha”) is widely regarded as the founder of Buddhism in India more than 2,500 years ago.

Gautama lived during the 5th century B.C. and was born into a wealthy family as a prince in present-day Nepal. Historians debate if he was actually a prince or just a son of an oligarch. Prince or not, Gautama upon seeing the hardships that was the reality of the ordinary people, gave up his life of riches to seek enlightenment.

It’s said after six years of searching; Gautama found enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree. He would go on to spend the rest of his life teaching others about how to achieve this spiritual state.

With some 470 million followers, Buddhism is now regarded as a notable religion alongside Christianity and Islam. Although emerging from the East and Southeast Asia, the influence of the faith or ‘way of life’ is gaining prominence in the Western countries.

Its characteristics include not having a supreme god or deity rather placing premium on attainment, achieving enlightenment – a state of inner peace and wisdom as well as embracing the concepts of Karma (the law of cause and effect) and reincarnation (the continuous cycle of rebirth).

Unraveling the background to the Africoid features and knotted hair of the Buddha

Gautama passed away around 483 B.C. Upon his death, his followers began to organize a religious movement using the Buddha’s teachings which became the foundation for what is now Buddhism.

It, however, took Ashoka the Great; the Mauryan Indian emperor in 3rd century B.C. to make Buddhism a state religion of India.

A significant attribute of many of the Buddhist statues in Asia and beyond is the knotted hair of the Buddha.

One account holds that Buddha had to shave his head only once – when he cut off his hair to be an ascetic. After his initial tonsure, the Buddha’s hair adhered tightly to his scalp in rows of snail like curls.

While Eurocentric scholars find it hard to conceive the Buddha to have been of African extraction explaining away his knotted hair as being dead snails who sacrificed themselves to help the Buddha attain alignment, other historians and scholars beg to differ.

Per the ‘Snail Martyrs story’ on northcoastgardening.com: “Buddha was on a walk and began thinking very deeply. He came to a tree and sat down in its shade to continue his meditation. Hours passed, and the Buddha became so immersed in thought that he didn’t notice the sun moving across the sky. The sun beat down on his bare head, and still he sat thinking.

“A snail was making its way along the ground, and he noticed the Buddha sitting there, thinking important thoughts. Snails are tough creatures, but they are made of moisture, and have to be very careful of drying out, so the snail saw right away that the Buddha’s head was soon going to become a painful distraction to his great thoughts.

“As fast as it could, the snail made its way up the Buddha’s robe to his head, and sat there, with his mucous-y body cooling the Buddha’s smooth, bare skin. Other snails noticed and followed the first one, covering Buddha’s head in a neat cap of spiral shells and cool, damp bodies.

“Hours passed, and the snails became parched and dry. When evening fell and Buddha stood, noticing his surroundings once more, he found he was wearing 108 snails, all of whom had given their lives to further Buddha’s path to enlightenment.

“These snails are now honored as martyrs and are shown on many statues of the Buddha to remind us of their sacrifice.”

This view is held by a good number of people of the Eurasian stock, however, those of the African stock find it to be a farfetched theory.

Africoid (features) for our purpose refers to those native inhabitants of Asia whose phenotype closely resembles that of Africans. Asia’s Africoid populations include such groups as the Dravidians of India and various peoples of Southeast Asia and the South Seas referred to as Melanasians, Oceanic Negroids, Negritos, Australoids and more.      

Unraveling the background to the Africoid features and knotted hair of the Buddha
Buddha via quora.com

Till recently, statues of the Buddha bore Africoid features namely thick lips, broad nose, long earlobes and was painted black plus the knotted hair also called cornrow which is popular with both male and female Africans.

Frank Church from London commenting on the subject of the Buddha’s knotted hair on quora.com submitted: “The most logical answer is that Buddha was a Negro or had Negroid features, which some Asian populations still have, such as the Aeta and Agta of the Philippines and the Semang of Malaysia. The image probably harks back to an era before the Negroid population of Asia reduced and in fact there is no reason to believe that Siddartha Gautama couldn’t have had such features as some Tibetans and Nepalese retained that kind of hair texture into the 20th century and some of them may still do. You should also note that many Buddha paintings feature him with a black complexion and it is only reasonable that he should retain the hair texture currently associated with Africans. Coupled with the widow’s peak in most of his sculptures and paintings the Buddha image probably derives from an earlier population on mainland Indian who may have looked like the Jarawa of the Andaman Islands, as can be seen in these Jarawa people.”

Unraveling the background to the Africoid features and knotted hair of the Buddha
Buddha from Tibet painting in the 11th century via ‘The Triumph of Melanin’ documentary

His submission is as straight as it is succinct. Given that melanated people are the first global citizens making the movement from continental Africa to Indo-China, the Pacific and then the Americas. It is not without merit that the Buddha was of African extraction hence his Africoid features which till recent alterations to the painting and slendering of the lips and nose was a common feature in countries like Tibet, India, Malaysia and others.

According to author Gerald Massey: “It is certain that the Black Buddha of India was imaged in the ‘Negro’ type. In the Negro God, whether called Buddha or Sut-Nahsi [Nehesi] we have datum.  They carry their color in the proof of their origin. The people who first fashioned and worshipped the divine image in the Negroid mold of humanity must, according to ALL knowledge of human nature, have been Negroes themselves.  For blackness is not merely mystical, the features and hair of Buddha belonged to the Black Race and Nahsi [Nehesi] is the Negro name.” (Volume 1pp.18,218  – A Book of Beginnings.)

Ancient African Affirmations on Facebook also reckoned: “Buddha of India was Black. That is why his woolly hair is always shown in corn rows, or in a pepper corn style with small tight curls. Original statues of Buddha clearly show him to be Africoid, with the wide nose, thick lips and frizzy, na…ppy, hair which are distinctive Negro characteristics. In most ancient temples throughout Asia where he is still worshipped, he is shown as jet Black. In fact, in most of the ancient temples of Asia and India, statues of the gods and goddesses have Africoid features with woolly hair in the pepper corn style, while some even have dreadlocks. These pictures of Buddha portray him in no uncertain terms as a Negro with kinky, coiled hair, a flat nose and full lips……. Buddha was an Enlightened Master from the Sakya clan of the Naga (Nigga) Race, and was the first man on earth to preach the great principles of equality, liberty and fraternity. He caused the Nagas (Niggas) to become conscious of their own mind power as opposed to the mantra power. Buddhism, whose doctrines include the Golden Rule, was established 500 years before Christianity in the area now called the Middle East (Africa). Buddha is not a name but a title meaning Enlightened One, Blessed One, or to Become awake. Over the centuries, there have been several recorded Buddhas like Gautama, Sakayanumi, and Siddhartha. Black Buddhist missionaries introduced Buddhism to China, Japan and other countries.”

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: October 15, 2019


Must Read

Connect with us

Join our Mailing List to Receive Updates