A Viking… Buddha?

In a turn of events that should surprise no one who actually pays attention, it turns out that the Vikings traveled quite far and wide.

It seems, in this case, that one individual or group traveled far enough (or traded with those who did) to acquire for themselves a Bishop’s crozier from Ireland (downright obvious, but a lovely piece), a bronze ladle from North Africa (still not shocking, also a lovely piece), and a Bronze Buddha statue in the style from India.

Did this mean there were Buddhist Vikings? Oh, maybe. The Vikings who traded with Christians were more likely to convert than the ones who sacked monasteries, so I suppose it depends on whether that statue was traded or raided.

But the point remains: Vikings, not so much known for the staying home and mixing only with their own people.

–Ember–

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About EmberVoices

Ember Cooke has been a member of Hrafnar and Seidhjallr for more than a decade, where she trained to be a Seidhkona, Galdrakona, and Gythia. She founded the Vanic Conspiracy and made ordination vows to the Vanir and her congregation in the summer of 2013. She has contributed to several publications on Heathen and Northern Pagan subjects and regularly presents rituals and workshops at festivals. Her personal practice is more diverse, as the Vanir have lead her into cross-training and service for the wider Pagan community. This has including medium and servitor training in American Umbanda, clergy training with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, and jail ministry for local counties. She holds a BA with honors in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. Ember has lived all her life in the south San Francisco Bay Area, and is intimately bound to the valley of her birth.
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3 Responses to A Viking… Buddha?

  1. Reblogged this on facingthefireswithin and commented:
    This, our ancestors traveled far and wide and traded with many. You DON’T manage to do that as a dogmatic fundamentalist.

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  2. Helio Pires says:

    I don’t think the Buddha statue from Helgö is enough to claim that there may have been Buddhist vikings. Conversion requires more than iconography, it needs a transmission of ideas that have to be accepted as part of someone’s life. Which is what the Christian missionaries did and since there is no trace of Buddhist monks or scriptures in Scandinavia… However, it is interested to consider how the Norsemen may have looked at the Buddha statue: did they give it any special significance or was it used for purely decorative purposes? Because if you think about the Rällinge statue that is usually interpreted as being Freyr and how both figurines have their legs crossed, one wonders if the Buddha statue was interpreted as or used to represent a Norse deity.

    And yes, ancient Scandinavians were prone to mix with other people, both physically and culturally. Starting with the Saami, which at the very least may have influenced the cults or mythologies of Skadi and Ullr (assuming that they’re not Saami in origin).

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    • EmberVoices says:

      You’re right in that I certainly don’t think a Buddhist statue in the hands of a Viking is enough to claim there WERE Buddhist Vikings, but I don’t think saying “Oh, maybe” is much of a claim.

      There are some ways in which that kind of Buddha would make a surprisingly appropriate Freyr, but the lack of huge penis would be discouraging, I think…

      -E-

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