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Debunking the Tom Cole Jerry Anderson Interview HALI 76

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My good friend Tom Cole a California Rug dealer produced this highly questionable article a number of years ago for a wonderful British magazine. The article is a mixture of opinion, error, inconstancy, and fantasy presented as fact. Due to Tom reprinting it on the Internet instead of dying a quiet death it continues to draw readers who often believe what it purports. Please do not take this piece as an attack on either Tom Cole or Jerry Anderson. It is not meant to be. But when an article is so deeply flawed something should be said.

In 1994 Hali Magazine (HALI 76) a British publication published the Tom Cole Interview with Jerry Anderson interview. It is an widely quoted article and while some of it seems to be factual much of it is cast into doubt by the errors. 

HALI (Tom Cole): What are the origins of the Baluch people of Baluchistan?

JERRY ANDERSON: They are Assyrian, of Assyro-Arabic ethnic origin. Their own legends and ballads claim Aleppo in present day Syria as their original home. There were two waves of migration, one with the Arab invasion a millennium ago and another about five to six hundred years ago. Those who came in the second wave settled near Zahedan in Persian Baluchistan, and their tribal names are derived from the names of the mountains nearby. Some of them came through into Sind Province of what is now Pakistan. Most of this second wave speak Rakshani Baluch, totally different to Makrani Baluch, the original ‘pure’ Baluch language. But these people have nothing to do with weaving rugs.

JBOC: If Anderson is right that the Baluch are, “Assyrian, of Assyro-Arabic ethnic origin” then this is a testable proposition. If the Baluch are Assyrian they should speak an Afro-Asiatic, Semitic language or at least a Indo-European Persian language with a heavy degree of Afro-Asiatic-Semitic borrow words. This is not the case at all. The Baluch Language Family Tree is Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Balochi. The Ethnologue So an Assyrian origin of the Baluch is not supportable and Anderson must be disregarded on this point.. 

JBOC: Then Anderson dumps the Assyrian Balochi scenario and introduces the Scythian scenario:

JERRY ANDERSON: The political and cultural centre of this confederacy is located in Sistan, originally referred to as Sakastan, the land of the Sakas or Scythians. It was these people, the descendants of the weavers of the Pazyryk, who populated the area of Sistan. At the time of the Arab invasions, the name was changed to Sijistan (‘sand country’), and from that it eventually evolved, over about a thousand years, into the name we know today. The weavers of these pile rugs are ethnically a Scythian people.

JBOC: Then Anderson contradict himself when first he says the Baluch are "Assyro-Arabic ethnic origin” and then switches to the Baluch are Scythian. How could they be both. So are the weaving Baluch really Scythians? This asks a huge leap of faith on our parts. There are things commonly accepted in the field and there are things that are controversial and not commonly accepted. Anderson is clearly in the controversial area here. The same argument that puts degenerate Scythians in the Baluch ethnic group can be made for Parthians. The real question is how does Anderson know? What are his sources? Tom Cole ignores the inconsistancies and  just accepts any fantasy as fact.  Is it that he does not know or is it that he does not care. I find this troubling to say the least.

HALI (Tom Cole): And the Mushwani?
JERRY ANDERSON: They are the Sarabani Mushwani, a huge group who came from Caucasia after the fall of Khazar, a Turkic state which converted to Judaism. The Sarabani left after the Swedish Vikings ransacked that area. They escaped into what is known today as Afghanistan. Now the Mushwani are just one subgroup of the Sarabani. They are located in various places. There are some near Quetta and some in southeast Afghanistan. There are even some in the vicinity of Islamabad here in Pakistan. Depending on where they are located they speak different languages, including Farsi, Pushto, Brahui and Rakshani Baluchi. But the rug weaving groups called Mushwani are located near Adraskand in western Afghanistan and in Sistan.

JBOC: That the Mashwani as Jewish Khazars chased out of the Caucasus who did not stop running until they got to Eastern Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan is an amazing undocumented, unsupportable, and improbable story.
First of all the Khazars beat the Vikings so why were they running. Second of all Khazars were Turks, Turks are not Indo European they are Altaic. So back to language the Sarabani speak Persian a Indo European language so they are not Khazars. Then to top it off Anderson has the Sarabani Mushwani speaking Farsi, Pushto, Brahui and Rakshani Baluchi. This just does not work. The story of the shared heritage does not hold water and if they all speak different languages then they are not an Ethno-Linguistic group so what are they?

HALI (Tom Cole) What accounts for ‘Seljuk’ iconography on so-called Baluch rugs?

JERRY ANDERSON: Are you following what I am saying? They are the same people. What’s the big surprise? It is the dissemination of a single culture, from the Lake Balkashia region, and eventually to Sistan. Why not a continuation of design? In that vein, the Persian word for carpet is ghaleen, derived from the ancient Indo-European word gaalee, which means language! The carpet was an ancient representational form of language, of religious significance, depicting the cosmic symbology.

JBOC: The idea that the that Seljuk and Baluch are all the same is problematic. Back to the language problem. The Seljuk are Ersari Turkmen an Altaic language group and The Baluch are Indo European. So Jerry now claims that the Baluch are Seljuk, Syrian, and Khazar Jews

I have to conclude that Jerry Anderson is not a sound or solid resource and Tim Cole's involvement in this charade is troubling to say the least. If there re any errors in this review please let me know and I will correct them. As for my sources in debunking Anderson and Cole I draw heavily on Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com/.

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