taken from http://www.niflungen.de/ose/
, with permission, follow the link to see the pictures of this find
The famous Oseberg ship-grave has given us numerous
archaeological treasures. Among them, an interesting but puzzling finding
still doesn't have a satisfactory interpretation; the so-called "Buddha-bøtte"
(Buddha-pail). It got its name from the two small figures, only few
centimeters high, that were placed at the upper edge of a pail and their
heads form the joints in which the handle of the pail rotates.
Indeed, these figures immediately make you think
of typical representations of the Buddha from Asia. The classic seated
Lotus position and the peaceful and sunk expression with the closed
eyes are interpreted as belonging to the deepest meditation. How could
such a representation originate in Norway, about 800 AD?
The archaeologists, however, are not completely
convinced that it is a native work. The ornaments on the breast are
executed in enamel-technology, and this technology should still have
been unknown in Norway at that time. Therefore, one suspects England
or Ireland as a possible place of origin. This opinion is however very
old, and even though it has been repeated again and again, no new argumentation
has been put forward to take it out of its status of unexplainable curiosity
However it is excluded as being an import-piece
from the Asian area, as is the case with the Buddha statue found in
Birka, Sweden. The ornaments on the breast of the statue also point
at native traditions and not to Irish ones, the Irish were already Christian
at this time. The fourfold symbol is also found in other representations
of the Germanic culture-area. In Norway, until modern times, this symbol
is the one for blessing and for protection against harm. In the folklorist
literature of Norway, it comes as shapes called " runehakekors" (rune-swastika)
or simply "det nordiske hakekors". Fortunately, this kind of find does
not stand alone, nor is it unique. Another finding from Norway, the
figure of Myklebostad, is so similar to Oseberg’s Buddha that a work
of the same artist might be possibly hypothesized. That breast is also
adorned with "runehakekors". The difference is that we do not find the
Lotus seating position in this figure, instead, it stands on its feet.
This other finding further decreases the possibility that the Oseberg-Figure
is an accidental booty from the British islands. If proof of a British
manufacture could really be produced, then this could be inferred on
the basis of the ornamentation because of its working.
An illustration of the figure of Myklebostad is
located on the web pages of the archaeological museum in Bergen at:
However, the manufacturing of his figure could also have taken place
on the British islands, so that still leaves the question of what this
figure is representing. From the ornaments in the yellow fields, which
have the form of a T, we could consider that it is a Thor-hammer. Together
with the interpretation of the "runehakekors" as a lightning-symbol,
it could be possible to imagine that it is a representation of Thor
himself. This interpretation is admittedly wrong. However, it seems
extremely incredible that it could be an illustration of the actual
Buddha. It is just as unlikely that the artist used an Asian original,
that he would have merely copied. An argument could be developed as
follows: in order to capture exactly an expression of deep meditation
in its most inner nature, a mere imitation would fail to achieve it.
Consequently, the question remains: was meditation known in the North
European area of this time?
The idea of a "meditating Viking" at first appears
unconvincing, but it becomes of little surprise with more thinking.
Such knowledge could originate from the intensive contact with Asian
people, Huns, Alans etc. during the migration times. On the other hand,
and this is much more probable, it could be a technique common to the
Celtic and Germanic people. Also, the famous Gundestrup cauldron from
Denmark shows the Celtic God Cernunnos in a similar seat-stand. All
early people and cultures have developed trance conditions and as well
as the techniques necessary to acquisition them. And the discovery,
that a certain posture is helpful for it, could have very easily happened
independently of each other everywhere. It should be therefore astonishing
if such methods were missing in the North European area. And actually
we have hints of such methods from the written sources. Shamanic elements
are well known in the North-Germanic religion. The only problem left
is to know if these traditions are native, or whether these elements
are only borrowed through contact with the finno-ugric people. It is
however certain that the "útisetia" (literally "sitting outside"),
the name for a trance technique, is again and again mentioned in the
context of certain rituals and invocations in the Norse literature.
We maybe have a representation of that posture here?