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It looks like Kanye West is the latest celebrity to fall prey to the pernicious myths promulgated by Ancient Aliens and its fringe history ilk. According to Life & Style magazine, the hip hop artist reportedly declared himself a “star-seed” during his recent hospitalization, telling hospital staff that he is a space alien sent to Earth to save humanity. The term “star seed” is frequently used by New Age types to refer to people who are allegedly from the Pleiades, and it is closely related to the “star children” discussed on Ancient Aliens. Like most New Age claims, it originates in twentieth century, with some accounts suggesting that Brad Steiger introduced it. The only reference to the “starseed” I found from Steiger was from a 1975 discussion of the “Starseed project,” but that referred to planned manned voyages into space. It seems that the next year, in his Gods of Aquarius, Steiger introduced the “Star People” as “humans who come from a special gene pool linked to visits by extraterrestrials.” Sometime around 1980 the references became conflated and the Star People became Star Seed, and later Star Children. Anyway, West must be a fan of New Age and/or UFO material to have internalized such claims.
Meanwhile, in Malacca, a tiny state of Malaysia located near the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, we hear of the alleged discovery of the bones of giant humans who skeletons measure some fifteen feet long! The Singapore Straits Times reports that local historian Mohd Fuad Khusari M Said, working for the Malaysian government to identify previously unknown historical sites, claimed that he found the graves of giants on the island of Pulau Upeh, a popular weekend retreat just off the Malacca coast once known as Ilha das Pedras, or the Place of Stones, so-called because during the Portuguese era, the island provided stones for the houses of the village of Malacca.
Fuad claimed to have found large bones inside a cave on the island. He said that he found two large graves 1.2 km (0.75 miles) away from the cave. Fuad illogically connected the bones and graves, and despite the fact that he had not excavated the graves, concluded from the size of the stone walls surrounding them that the persons buried within must stretch out to fill the entire enclosed area, making each denizen somewhere around 5 meters (16 feet) in length. I needn’t tell you that the size of a burial plot is not indicative of the size of the person within. Indeed, the chairman of the Orwellian-named Institute of Historical and Patriotism Studies of Malaysia, Mohd Jamil Mukmin, cautioned that the bigger grave size might simply have been meant as a special honor for a normal-sized person.
Fuad claimed that he believes giant humans are possible because of ancient myths, including those of the Maya. He also cited nineteenth century accounts of giant bones in North American newspapers as proof that giant bones have been found in the past.
He declined to provide any photographs of the bones he claimed to find in the cave. He provided only a photograph of the graves themselves, which everyone involved admits have been altered in recent times. Mainlanders added tombstones to the grave sites only a few years ago, and there is no telling how old the stone walls are, since no excavation work has been done.
According to historical records going back hundreds of years, the island, which is now several miles from shore, was once much closer, and in ancient times might have been connected to the mainland before the sea separated it. Consequently, given that the island has had people and animals of all kinds on it off and on for as far back as we care to look, should these bones be real, they might be anything. Fuad claims that his training in archaeology and history allowed him to identify them as giant human bones, but he would hardly be the first person to mistake animal bones for those of a human giant.
It’s telling that he chose not to take pictures. When asked why, since the bones were, after all, visible on the ground in the cave, Fuad said, “I have reported the findings to the authorities because we have no right to excavate the site without permission.”
The Malaysian government claims to be taking the discovery of “giants” seriously. Officials told the Straits Times that an investigation is ongoing and efforts are underway to preserve the site of the alleged “giant” remains.
But what was most interesting to me is the claim that the neighboring island and beach resort of Pulau Besar is full of giant graves. According to the Strait Times:
The length of the skeletal remains match the tomb of Sultan Al Ariffin Syeikh Ismail and the graves of the seven warrior brothers in Pulau Besar. Other findings of “gigantic graves” in Pulau Besar included those believed to belong to religious leaders from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, India and Java, who had gone to Malacca to spread Islam during the early days of the Malacca Sultanate.
The seven brothers (missionaries, not likely biological brothers), according to tradition, were the first Muslims to visit Malacca. They converted the locals and, liking the area so much, tore apart their own ship to build their home on Pulau Besar. These seven brothers also appear in the lore of Sumatra as well as Sulu in the Philippines, where they are also localized and venerated at graves there. Folklore heroes really get around. They lived, apparently, in the mid-1400s, but some modern scholars speculate that in each location the legend was applied to symbolize the first Islamic missionaries at any given location. Needless to say, the graves of the brothers in Sulu are not claimed to be those of “giants.”
This is interesting to me because earlier records from the British colonial period catalog and mention the graveyards of Pulau Besar, but no one took special notice of the size of the graves, or ever claimed that the inhabitants of them were giants. However, they had long been alleged to hold magical powers from the holiness of the Muslim sages within, making them places of pilgrimage. The myth of the seven brothers (or seven warriors) has long been troublesome because the story is likely fictional and the authorities disapprove of the veneration given them. Here is where it gets complicated. According to Norazit Selat, writing in 1996’s Urban Survival: The Malays of Muar,
The graves of each of the seven brothers are more than ten feet long, suggesting that they were unique. The Islamic body [in charge of the site] maintained that these graves were once normal, but over time they had been extended by various people in fulfilment of their vows. The Religious Council of Melaka, in order to stamp out these false beliefs, removed the roofs and the layers of yellow cloth from the graves. They also shortened the graves to normal size. But no sooner had the authority left than the people extended the graves back to their original length. The island is still visited by people in fulfilment of their vows.
The attribution of “giant” status to these ancient figures has no support in versions of their stories right up until quite recently, perhaps as recent as the 1990s or early 2000s, so far as published accounts can attest. Instead, it looks like the “giants” of Malacca are a modern invention, a way of glorifying Malacca and keeping up with the fringe history that became so prominent in the West around that time. The honor afforded to the ancient graves seems to have decayed into a belief that the inhabitants of the graves are as large as the grave markers, a sort of literalizing of the symbolic.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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