Friday, October 14, 2011

" The Painted ones " Getting back to the roots - Revised

the Painted ones... It has been established that Conan is of a Gaelic or Celtic ( If you will ) origin. His name alone is enough to determine this. But who were the Cimmerians in relation to who the Scottish or Irish are today? This is hard to pinpoint as the HYBORIAN age of REH was around 10,000 years before recorded history which is only around 2,400 years BC. That is a lot of time to pass…many things can happen in just 1000 years much less 12,400 years. So you have to take a lot of things into consideration. Different tribes of people settled in different parts of the world that were originally from some other area of the world. Vikings are a good example of this.

Xerxes wanted to be the King of the entire world and he roamed about conquering and making his what was once someone else’s. Alexander the Great is also guilty of this as well as Many Kings of England who let Power go to their heads.

If you look at a map of Howard’s world and compare it to a world Atlas you will find Denmark right where Cimmeria was supposed to be. But the people of Denmark are not the people who were there 2000 years ago. They are Germanic settlers who moved there and made that land their own. Like English people came to the U.S. and settled before the melting pot got to a full boil.

The mountain people who lived in the hills and in Clans and wore Blue war paint when they fought or hunted were called Picts by the Romans. Historically the picts were of Spanish descent. They migrated to that area and began a new ( If you will ) race of people. They stepped out of the sunny climes of Spain and settled in the Northern regions where it is colder and windier. Over time they lost their tan and their skin took on a more pale complexion. The people from that time took on pagan rituals and believed in a wholly different theology. But these folks were not Spanish anymore…they were Celts. ( Historically ) They lived in the mountains in clans and hunted and killed game basically living like the Native Americans did before the English came over and created a new land that became America and destroyed life as they knew it. They painted themselves up and had different animals to claim as their totem and worshipped Gods of elemental nature…( Sounds like the Indians to me. )

But wait…if these are Picts then…who is Conan always fighting? Who were those animal growling guys in the movie that 13 year old Conan massacred with their own weapons?

Those were not the Picts that we’re familiar with nope. That’s because that all took place 10,000 years before recorded history in REH’s HYBORIAN age. So they definitely were not of Scottish or Gaelic or Celtic descent. But then again…Neither is CONAN then? Conan has a Celtic name sure but his people were from another era. So we can’t safely say that Conan was a big Irish guy. He’s a prehistoric man brute. You have to keep in mind that people by nature were Nomads way back when and before they began settling down on one piece of land to call their own they moved from place to place as the weather changed. Sounds pretty smart. So the Cimmerians were a people who stopped and stayed and said screw it! I’m staying I’m not moving and this is my land no matter how harsh it gets in the winter. Now..Historically , what people are known for their stubbornness?... Italians.
Now according to memory if I recall correctly, CONAN was quite the hairy dude. His bare chest and body full of rippling corded muscles was full of thick black hair ( In the REH stories ). So we can assume Conan looked like a big muscular Danny Devito with a full head of long thick black hair ( His mane ) Now I am NOT claiming that CONAN was Italian that is not what I’m saying at all. I’m just stating that people moved around a lot back in them prehistoric days. The people that settled in Italy are the people who’ve earned the name Italians. But getting back to the Painted ones…
It was a clever device on the part of Oliver Stone to paint Conan up in the first CONAN film.

Usually ( Historically ) the paint would have or should have been a blue color. But because this was a night mission Conan and crew chose black…who knows when they started using Blue because we’re talking a difference of 10,000 years. So the ancient Scotts/Celts of the HYBORIAN age were in theory Conan’s people….as we’ve clearly established. But the picts Conan fought against were also of different tribes and beliefs. Painting their bodies up and piercing themselves and going into battle basically naked with nothing but a sword , spear or axe. That sounds like a Berserker.

Where am I going with this? I don’t know I’m trying to remember. In the film the “13th Warrior” the flesh eating Wendol a tribe of Bear men were terrorizing the countryside in a Nordic country. My guess is that this area was up there near Ireland way up North.

Leastways thats the impression I got. But I got the feeling that those Bear men the "Wendol" were Viking era Celtic/Pagan warriors living in a Clan whose Animal totem was a bear. Duh!

But in King Arthur the Painted ones were called the "Woad" these people lived in the woods and were fierce and brilliant combat strategists and tough as nails fighters. However the " Seal people " from the film the EAGLE lived near the water and smeared themselves head to toe in blue paint/clay. These warriors were ruthless they would kill their own young to prove a point.

Then we have Sir William Wallace played brilliantly by Oscar winner and totally nutso Genius film maker Mel Gibson. After having done a little research to confirm my curiosities about the Picts I found out that by Wallace's era the Blue war paint had already passed as those times were a changing and the Painted peoples were a bit more on the civilized side as time wore on.

But Mel added the paint as a beautifully clever cinematic license. It worked for me. I bought it.

Who the heck knows what was on REH's mind when he was writing up his yarns? He created other worlds and a vast array of characters. "Brule the spear slayer" was a Pict. Bran Mak Morn...Pict. But these guys were more along the lines of the " Wendol " But...If King Arthur had come across CONAN...he lump him right in there with Picts. But Conan hates Picts so Artie would be picking up his head if he ever called Conan a Pict...But I can see why he'd make that observation. I can see where he's coming to speak. However you look at it...The Picts were the Celts. At least this is what History tells us. The peoples indiginous to the area.

Anyway...Happy Halloween folks...I'm taking a couple weeks off from Bloggin' on Crom for a bit. Congrats to Cromsblood and his wife for the little warrior. I hope I did not tick anyone one off as this entire speculative and nothing more.

* Revision : I got into reading my ACE reprints a day or two ago which prompted this particular post. I like to read Roy Thomas' Forwards before I read the already familiar comic stories with art by Barry Smith. In volume 6 ... In my re-reading I came across a rewritten redrawn ( By Ernie Chan ) retelling of the Hyborian Age by REH rewritten for the comics by ROY. Now I read these before in the pages of Savage sword with art by Simonson. I was reminded of something I had forgotten. HOWARD makes it pretty clear. Cimmerians were the descendants of the Atlanteans and the Pictish tribes were the Descendants of the Lemurians. After the second great cataclysm ( 500 years after the first ) When the fianal bits of land dropped into the sea creating the inland sea the people of Atlantis and Lemuria migrated north toward the mountains.

It is pretty clear to me now that there were two different peoples occupying the land. The Picts were a people all unto themselves as they were a race of people whose line dated back to lost Lemuria. While the Cimmerians were Atlantean. Both races according to HOWARD were Ancient and were always a part of the landscape before the Cataclysm.

So I think it can be safe to say...CONAN was not a pict. I am satisfied with my findings.

Thank you Professor Roy Thomas for the education. I will take this as a lesson. I have read these things before...unless reading said books and articles and comics again on occasion. The information will be forgotten. So I'll make it a point to re-read my materials every once in a while to stay fresh. OK...NOW I'M FINISHED...later. ;)


abdul666 said...

'Bran Mac Morn'... don't have my books at hand, but the hero of 'worm of the earth', I believe? A Pict from historical times, with black hair and steel blue eyes. Clearly of the same stock as Conan. Were Cimmerians of the Hyborian Age the ancestors of historical Picts? Don't remember if it's mentioned in the 'History' written by Howard himself, but looks likely.

While the Picts of Conan (and Kull) times were Red Indians... unfortunate choice of name.
Btw the 'Eaters of the Dead' of 'The 13th Warrior' make better 'Picts' (of the Bear Clan) than the 'Pict Scout' in the movie!

Then, Keira Knightley his an excellent 'Pict' Guinevere in 'King Arthur'. Not at all like the Guinevere of 'La Morte D'Arthur', but a far more interesting character -worthy of Hyborian times, indeed.

Yo man said...

Cimmeria is not where Denmark is nowadays, since many seas were non existant in the Hyborian Age, for example no mediterranean sea, no north sea, no english channel.

You cannot superimpose as some did, the hyborian age map and modern Europe, because Howard made his hyborian age lands shift , some parts sink under water and thus Cimmeria becomes ireland and perhaps part of Wales, , perhaps also the west coast of Scotland, Britain and even the northwestern part of Brittany.

Try to superimpose Pangea with Thurian age maps , hyboria and moden europe/Africa/America: you'll be lost and subject t the wildest theories.
Hyborian age map is neither pangea nor modern europe and cannot be superimposed as is.

Yo man said...

If you superimpose as it is done on:

and you will end up having modern africans speaking aztec language, all that because some funny guy sees that hyborian age XUCHOTL is in the middle-west of modern africa!!

If you see what I mean.

Mike D. said...

I have been through this discussion before With Mr.Obrien. I told him that what I pointed out about Denmark in relation to Cimmeria I learned from the Forward written by ROY THOMAS in the little Pocketbook reprints of the Conan series volume 1. There is also a map provided. It is on page 5 right around the center of the page. I am not one to dispute or question Mr. Thomas as he is probably the foremost authority on CONAN that I can possibly think of.
He researched REH with a fine tooth comb. ( Roy also says Co-nAn ) This is the reason I believe that before the great cataclysm or caustyclasm if you will Cimmeria or at least a great percentage of it was located geographically where Denmark is now...probably sharing some ground with Vanaheim and Aesgaard. Take into consideration my posting was speculation and not something one would read to research a term paper. My words are not set in stone. But in my humble opinion...Roy's are.

Mike D. said...

I thought after I had written the piece the I spelled Bran Mak Morm improperly using a C istead of a K.
But after Abdul's comment for some reason I was inspired to look it up. I corrected the spelling.

RothgarTheInsatiable said...

I firmly believe that the Picts, Mongols, Siberians, North American Natives such as the Inuit and various tribes of Northern Asia are all of the same stock. Look at the art, culture, dress, lifestyle and heritage. It's not to big of a stretch.

Bree Yark! said...

Nah, Conan was Scottish, and the Picts were Neanderthals. That's my opinion, cuz I'm too lazy to reread all my REH books right now!

But seriously, I recall Bran Mak Morn being one of the few "pure" Picts, whereas the rest of the Picts had "tainted" bloodlines and had a very different appearance/make up than Bran.

Mike D. said...

No matter how you hack , slice or chop it...the different interpretations , misinterpretations or reinterpretations are interesting. REH created a world undreamed of and here we are 80 years later having a topical on the History of REH's interpretations of his ficticious pictish fiends and foes of Conan. I LOVE IT!

Anonymous said...

You guys are wrong on just about every point.

1) Roy Thomas is certainly not the world's foremeost authority on Conan. Most people "in the know" would consider that title to belong to the likes of Patrice Louinet, Mark Finn, and Rusty Burke, not to mention Al Harron. All have presented much more scholarly work than Roy Thomas.

2). One certainly can superimpose a Hyborian Age Map over a map of modern Europe. In fact, that's exactly what REH did when he created it. The region occupied by Cimmeria (the parts not presently under water) cover the left half of Scotland and approximately the middle third of Norway and Sweden. Denmark shares the same space as the Border Kingdom (The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, pg 423, 424, The Conquering Sword of Conan, pg. 364-365).

3) The 10,000 years BC is an abitrary date that was created by L. Sprague deCamp and never mentioned by REH himself in any writing that I'm aware of, and given the fact that King Kull lived approximately 100,000 thousand years before Bran Mak Morn (Kings of the Night, Bran Mak Morn, The Last King, pg. 43) to most modern authorities, the 10,000 BC date is way off (Dale Rippke dates the Hyborian Age at 30,000 years BC).

4) REH was unambiguous as to the origin of the Cimmerian race or their eventual fate. They were direct descendents of Atlantis who founded a kingdom on the mainland before the great cataclysm, devolved into apemen, and climbed back up out of the primordial slime to become Cimmerians. And they are the direct ancestors of the Black Irish and Highland Scots. (The Hyborian Age, The Coming of Conan, pg.382, 383, 386, 397).

5) REH was unambiguous about the origin of the Picts or their eventual fate. In fact, there's no race of people that REH wrote more about in his fantasy fiction (REH's Picts were mostly fictional. Any attempt to reconcile REH's Picts with real historical one's is problematic at best). In REH's fiction, the Picts have no racial connection to the Cimmerians/Atlanteans, or the Hyrkanians/Lemurians. They originated from the Pictish Isles during King Kulls time. During the great cataclysm, Pictish Isles reared up to become the north American continent, but all of the inhabitants were destroyed in the process. A few that had colonized the mainland managed to survive and remained in a state of primitive barbarism. Before the second great cataclysm, they learned iron making and modern warfare from the Aquilonians and overran most of the Hyborian Lands. By Bran Mak Morn's time, they were a dying race on their last legs before permanently fading from the world's stage. The Lemurians are a distinct racial group from the Picts, and are the ancestors of the Hyrkanians, who themselves are ancestors of the Mongols. (The Hyborian Age, pg 382, 386, 398).

Yo Man: Xucotl IS in the space currently occupied by Africa, just as REH intended it to be. I suggest you read the story "Red Nails". The inhabitants of Xucotl are Stygians (precursors to Egyptians), and are not to be confused with Aztecs (REH apparently used Aztec sounding names to make them merely to make them sound exotic. One should not infer an actual connection between them and native Americans. Again, REH is unambiguous about this. "Red Nails" takes place south of Stygia, right smack in the middle of the geographic region occupied by the Black Kingdoms.

Hope that helps!

Mike D. said... certainly confirmed my particular interpretation. Thanks for clarifying.
It also raised a good point about how people interpret what they read. ( Most of the things you pointed out were about the comments by persons other than myself. ) However the things you pointed out about the Scots was a much much better explanation than what I was trying to say. The fact that you have given us all the book marks to follow is much
As for who Authority figures in the know are and relation to the Genre of comic books and adaptations from other writers like Roy Thomas.
Roy is a great man in the business.
He may not have written pastiches or novels but his interpretation is the popular one.
But as I said before in an earlier reply...the beauty of the different interpretations is glorious and created such a who remain anonymous decided to chime in with your educated references. Kudo's friend...may the force be with you pal. ;)

amsterdamaged said...


It wasn't my intention to remain anonymous. I thought I signed my name, but it didn't take. I'm Amsterdamaged, and I was quite active in REH fandom up until a few months ago when I got burned out over the endless debates and bickering (a lot of which I either initiated or escalated, to be fair). I like your blog, btw. You guys know how to be fans without taking it all so seriously, which I obviously still do from time to time. Best of luck to you guys!

Mike D. said...

No worries mate. I was practically baiting opinions...deliberately. It's what I do when I get all wordsmithie like that. But you're right...there are a lot of " I know more than you!" Know it all types out there. But Opinions are welcomed here. We don't wanna cause no fights...just friendly debates.
We love CONAN here...REH is the Eric Clapton to the Sword and Sorcery world and we celebrate the diversity.

Yo man said...


Xuchotl is indeed spot on the modern african west coast if you superimpose the hyborian map with an actual one. I said it was impossible because you too as well as Mikeyboy are making an important mistake: you're not taking in consideration the CONTINENTAL DRIFT and TECTONICS.
How do you think the mediterranean sea appeared after the Hyborian Age? Tectonic plates in Howard's world separated or merged, some even sinked while others rised.

superimposition is primitive and worthy only of people who studied mere literature. Howard was interested in many things,amongst which scientific theories, not just adventure stories and ancient myths.

You say Howard made his xuchotl people 100% pure stygians and just "named" them with aztec names to sound "exotic"?
That's a bold assumption and without any proof at all.

Who wares if Howard placed Xuchotl between south Stygia and the Black Kingdoms? Aztec names were not given lightly: people from Xuchotl were supposed to be an INBRED ANCIENT race with attire, tongue and rites that differed radically from the blacks and the stygians altogether.
That doesn't make them Stygian nor African. howard didn't make any connections, so that will remain a mystery. Heck! If he had explained everything in every detail, his writings would possess less charm, we need a touch of unexplained!


I have a lot of respect for Roy Thomas and his work , but his placing of Cimmeria in Scandinavia is outragingly not conform to Howard's views.
The descendants of Cimmerians are supposed to be black haired celtic gaels, not northern germanic people.

Mike D. said...

When I look at a map of the world for the region that we're discussing...the British Isles , Scotland , Denmark...even Ireland. I can clearly imagine the landmass as a whole and easily drop it over Howard's map of the Hyborian age. BUT...I never mentioned in my post...where Africa is and so on. Roy did not say CONAN was FROM Denmark but rather that Many ages ago Cimmeria occupied most of what Denmark is today. Keep in mind there was NO DENMARK then...Only Cimmeria and the two neighboring regions that they warred against mostly...Vanir and Aesir. CIMMERIA was a big mother HUBBING place CONAN's family and clan lived up in the Mountainous regions. IE ...where Denmark now resides.
NOPE CONAN was not Nordic nor Germanic nor Icelandic...He was an ANCIENT to the NTH level Celt..Gael...whatever. This has always been my stance. I was trying to figure out who Conans picts were...Because in REAL Historical Roman times...the Picts were the Celts..The Painted ones.
I guess maybe I was not clear in my posting. I pointed out theoretical and Hypothetical scenarios but never did I mention Stygia and the rest of the world CONAN lived in opposed to the way the world is today.
There was no Denmark and only until 999 or 1000 AD to about 1240 or even earlier...there were no Norse settlers to call the land Denmark. No way was CONAN FROM Denmark...Roy even states in the Forward I referenced...Conan's Mountainous neighborhood was in and around the area where Denmark is today.
Please don't misunderstand me when I use the name Denmark. It was only a Geographical reference and nothing more.

amsterdamaged said...

Yo Man,

It might be helpful for you to obtain copies of the Del Rey editions. You characterize superimposition as "primitive and worthy only of people who studied mere literature", and yet you seem to be unaware of the fact that that's exactly what REH did...literally. He literally took existing maps of the modern European land mass and drew lines around them to create his maps of the Hyborian Age. One only has to look at his handrawn Hyborian Age maps to see this. I've read plenty of REH's letters, and I can't recall him ever mentioning plate tectonics, either as a factor in creating Hyborian Age history or even as an area of academic interest. If you can provide evidence to refute this, it would be much appreciated. I don't REH knew anything about plate tectonics, which is fine, since he was merely writing a fictional background for fictional stories. His ideas about evolution were way off as well. It's impossible to reconcile the Hyborian Age with modern scientific theory.

It would be impossible for Xuchotl to be on the modern african west coast, as that was completely submerged during the Hyborian Age.

"But where land sank elsewhere, a vast expanse west of Stygia rose out of the waves, forming the whole western half of the continent of Africa."

There are plenty of references to whole land masses rising and submerging, but I can't find any reference in the Hyborian Age to landmasses drifting around.

"There was no such thing, at that time, as a consolidated Nordic empire. As always, the tribes had each its own chief or king, and they fought savagely among themselves. What their destiny might have been will not be known, because another terrific convulsion of the earth, carving out the lands as they are known to moderns, hurled all into chaos again. Great strips of the western coast sank; Vanaheim and western Asgard — uninhabited and glacier-haunted wastes for a hundred years — vanished beneath the waves. The ocean flowed around the mountains of western Cimmeria to form the North Sea; these mountains became the islands later known as England, Scotland and Ireland, and the waves rolled over what had been the Pictish wilderness and the Bossonian marches. In the north the Baltic Sea was formed, cutting Asgard into the peninsulas later known as Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and far to the south the Stygian continent was broken away from the rest of the world, on the line of cleavage formed by the river Nilus in its westward trend. Over Argos, western Koth and the western lands of Shem, washed the blue ocean men later called the Mediterranean. But where land sank elsewhere, a vast expanse west of Stygia rose out of the waves, forming the whole western half of the continent of Africa." -REH, The Hyborian Age

Mike D. said...

See? This general discussion...that's what I love.
In reading one may find a new sense of enlightenment. Rather Than refute what you read...take it into consideration go back and read some more. You won't believe what you'll start to believe.

Yo man said...

I know Howard never spoke of tectonics or else he would have mentioned them, but it's evident that he knew about them.

You're repeating what I'm saying when you say it's impossible to unite modern science and Howard's early 20th century esoteric theories.

Our real world has it's tectonic plates drifting, while Howard's continents just sink or rise, I4m not learning anything new here, everything is written so clearly in the Hyborian Age essay. I was merely pointing out that it was incompatible to merge reality with Howard's views.
Also, it depends how you superimpose the maps and various authors proposed their version, I tend to beleieve the one here is rather realistic in terms of being Howardian:

Xuchotl seems to be lost in the central-western part of modern Africa, somewhere in the Sahara desert probably.

Nothing in what you told me anyhow explains why you attribute the aztec sounding names of Xuchotl (and it's people) and Xuthal pure chance.
Reading Howard's letters is a good idea to learn how he created his world, but when it comes to subjects in his tories which he didn't explain, most fans are lost, saying "Howard din't say anything about it, it means he just did it by pure chance".
It's not because nothing has been left by Howard about Xuchotl that it should make all Xuchotl inhabitants stygians with "exotic names" which only resemble aztec names in pronunciation.

There --must-- have been a correlation between ancient races, mesoamerica and Xuchotl, only Howard didn't live long enough to explain the why and how.

The direction taken in the cartoon Red Nails seem to opt for the same choice: the Xuchotli people seem more or less meso-american, and Barry Windsor Smith depicted Xuchotl in a similar manners decades ago. In fact all Conan fans imagine Xuchotl like some kind of isolated aztec-style inner city and you know it pretty well.

Mike D. said...

I think we can safely say this discussion points out only one is clear to everyone singularly that every individual has their own Hypothesis and or personal interpretation regarding this issue.
I can clearly see the Hyborian age overlayed on top of a map of the modern world. Yet...I have a different thought. Lets all just agree to disagree...after all it's not going to change a thing.
If you did not learn anything then there is nothing more to say. We've spoken our peace and voiced our thoughts be they based on research or popular opinon or cold hard fact the bottom line is...we know Conan is an ancient CELT/GAEL. Howard's imagination and the ancient world collided to create Conan's world.
All of his research about history and ancient cultures combined with his love for telling a fantastic yarn can only serve to fuel our minds and get us thinking 80 years later. This is what he wanted...we're talking about Conan...and Bob Howard. WOW! I got chills.
Refute , dispute , deny and point out the flaws all you like. I know what I know and you fella's know what you's what we know and that's all we know.
It's plain as day to me. But one thing is for sure...everyone here on this comment posting board is passionate about Howard and Conan...that's a good thing.