Feature Articles 


The Strange Stone Discs of Baian-Kara-Ula

Unearthed from a remote mountain cave in 1938, these grooved stone discs defied translation until 1962. Researchers claim the discs tell an astounding story of alien visitors who survived their spaceship’s crash-landing in China 12,000 years ago.

Philip Coppens

Just before the outbreak of the Second World War, Chinese archaeologists stumbled upon a cave containing small skeletal remains. Alongside the bodies they found stone discs that were only deciphered 20 years later. They seemed to tell of an extraterrestrial craft that had crash-landed in the mountain range of Baian-Kara-Ula 12,000 years ago. The Western media treated the news with the usual attitude of “communist propaganda—do not believe a word of it”. But Hart wig Hausdorf recently returned from China with a different tale to tell. The discs exist—and do indeed seem to indicate that representatives from a space-faring alien race visited the Chinese mountain area in antiquity.
Slowly, the mountains of Baian-Kara-Ula, along the Chinese-Tibetan border, were starting to reveal their secrets. Scientists had stumbled upon an intricate network of connecting caves. In one of them they came across the neatly ordered graves of a race that appeared most peculiar, strange even: short bodies, except for the skull which was unproportionately large. At first, the scientists believed the caves had been the habitat of monkeys; but their leader, archaeologist Professor Chi Pu Tei, pointed out he had never heard of monkeys burying their dead.
During the unearthing of the bodies, an archaeologist recovered a stone disc from the bottom of a grave. All the archaeologists gathered around the artefact and turned it in every direction, trying to figure out what it had to mean. A circular hole in the middle and a groove spiralling inward or outward, however you wanted to look at it, were the only apparent features. Had they stumbled upon a Stone Age LP? Did “The Flintstones” really exist?
Closer inspection showed that the grooves were actually a line of small carvings or signs. Each disc was a book, but, upon their discovery in 1938, nobody possessed the dictionary so no one was able to read them. All the discs were collected and stored along with the other findings made in the area. There was no reason to consider these stone discs special or important; perhaps just odd.
The discs were kept in Peking, where, for the next 20 years, a line of experts tried to decipher the writing. Nobody succeeded. But, in 1962, Professor Dr Tsum Um Nui did succeed, and learnt of the astonishing message the discs contained. He announced his findings to a small group of friends and colleagues, but the public remained unaware of his discovery. The public was purposefully kept in the dark, for the authorities felt it wise not to announce the professor’s findings. The Peking Academy of Prehistory forbade the professor from publishing anything about the discs.
After two years of probably utter frustration, the professor and four of his colleagues were finally allowed to publish the conclusions of their research. They decided to call it “The cartelled script relating to the spaceship that, as is written on the discs, descended on Earth 12,000 years ago”. The discs, 716 of which were retrieved from one cave, told the story of inhabitants of another world stuck in the mountains of Baian-Kara-Ula. The peaceful intentions of these people had not been comprehended by the local population. Many extraterrestrials had been chased and killed by members of the Han tribe, living in nearby caves.
Professor Tsum Um Nui offered a few lines of his translation:
The Dropa came out of the clouds in their aeroplanes. Before sunrise, our men, women and children hid in the caves ten times. When they finally understood the sign language of the Dropa, they realised the newcomers had peaceful intentions...
Another part of the text stated the Han tribe regretted that the Dropa had crashed in this remote area and that they were unable to build a new spaceship so the Dropa could return to their home planet.

Tsum Um Nui’s colleagues laughed: the good professor had clearly lost his marbles. How could such a thing be true? Their ungrateful reception made the professor decide to move to Japan, where he died the following year.
Since the discs’ discovery more than 25 years before, other archaeologists had learnt more about the history of the area. That newly acquired knowledge indicated that the story, as it appeared in Tsum Um Nui’s translation, could be correct. Legends circulating even at that time spoke of short, skinny, yellow men that “had come out of the clouds a very long time ago”. These people had big, knobby heads and small bodies and were a terrible sight to see, according to the locals who had chased these people away on horseback. The description of these people is identical to the bodies Professor Chi Pu Tei had recovered in 1938.
Mural paintings were found inside the cave. They depicted sunrise, the Moon, unidentified stars and the Earth—all connected with dotted lines. The discs and the cave’s contents were dated at about 10,000 BC.
The caves were still inhabited by two tribes, calling themselves the Han and the Dropa, the latter people of strange expression. Barely 1.3 metres (4 feet) tall, they were neither Chinese nor Tibetan. Even an expert could not indicate their racial background.
The report on the translation of the discs, published in 1964, did not signal the end of this mystery. Obviously other people and organisations were interested.
Enquiries came from the Soviet Union, with scientists requesting some of the discs to be sent to them for study, which the Chinese did. The Soviets removed pieces of ‘dirt’ and made various chemical analyses. The Soviet scientists were surprised to learn that the discs contained fairly high amounts of cobalt and other metals.
Dr Viatcheslav Saizev reported in the Soviet magazine, Sputnik, which he had put the discs on a special machine which was somewhat like a gramophone. When turned on, the discs “vibrated” or “hummed” as if some kind of special electric charge had been pushed through the discs in a particular rhythm; or, as one scientist stated, “as if they formed a part of an electric circuit”. Somehow, at one time they had been exposed to high electric charges.
Such findings, however, had little to do with the other discs that stayed behind in China. Shortly after Tsum Um Nui’s decoding, the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s swept over China, and there was no public concern over the discs’ fate or their message.
In 1974, an Austrian engineer, Ernst Wegerer, stumbled upon two discs in the Banpo Museum at Xian and photographed them. The Swiss “ancient astronauts” author, Erich von Däniken, learnt of the discs and Wegerer’s photographs, and wrote about the discs in one of his books. Few believed von Däniken reported a true discovery; most felt he had made it up.
It was German tour operator, Hartwig Hausdorf, who changed the situation. In March 1994, he and Peter Krassa, a friend of von Däniken, left for China. Hausdorf said later:
In Xian we visited the Banpo Museum searching for the discs that Wegerer had photographed two decades earlier. But our optimism was not rewarded. Nowhere could we find any trace of the discs. Had Wegerer really made up the entire story? That seemed unlikely.
We asked our guides and Professor Wang Zhijun, director of the museum. At first, they denied the discs even existed! Within an hour of our having shown them the photographs, Zhijun stated that one of his predecessors had indeed given Wegerer permission to photograph the discs, that the discs did indeed exist or had at least existed. Shortly after having given Wegerer permission to photograph the discs, that director was ‘asked’ to resign. We learnt that, ever since, not a single trace of the director had been found.
Krassa, a compatriot of Wegerer, had managed to collect all four of Wegerer’s photographs.
Director Zhijun showed us—when he realised we would not leave without knowing all there was to know—a book on archaeology in which photographs of the discs could be seen. Afterwards, he took us to a nearby centre, the location where the museum’s artefacts were cleaned and catalogued. On one chair stood an enlarged copy of a stone disc. He hinted that, a few years ago, word had come down ‘from above’, from his superiors, that all traces of the discs had to be wiped out, and that he was to go on record as saying everything was one big lie. Such attitudes are of course not benevolent for anyone who wants to find the truth.
Had Hausdorf and Krassa been less obstinate, they might have classed Wegerer as a hoaxer.

Krassa and Hausdorf also came across the story of an Englishman, Dr Karyl Robin-Evans, who had travelled to China in 1947. Before his arrival, a Professor Lolladorff had shown him a stone disc which he believed to have been found in northern India. The object appeared to have belonged to a tribe, the “Dzopa”, who had used the discs during religious ceremonies. Dr Robin-Evans stated the discs had a radius of 12 centimetres and were about five centimetres thick.
The professor put the disc on a balance and connected the balance to a typewriter. He illustrated how the disc, over a period of three and a half hours, apparently gained and lost weight! After one day, this change in weight created a printed line on the paper in the typewriter. The change in weight had allowed the typewriter to print, leaving characters on the paper. The discs could sort of type! Though it was easy to explain what had happened, how it had occurred was basically impossible. How could a stone disc change weight?
Apparently Dr Robin-Evans was unwilling to lose face over this stunning experiment. Though his report had been written in 1947, it was only published in 1978, four years after his death (see Dr David Agamon [ed.], Sungods in Exile, Sudbury, 1978).
After his meeting with Prof. Lolladorff, Dr Robin-Evans set course for the Chinese mountains in search of the Dzopa tribe. First, he passed through Lhasa, Tibet, where he was welcomed by the 14th Dalai Lama, who was 12 years old at the time. In 1947, Tibet was still independent. Only in 1950, when the Dalai Lama fled to northern India, did the Chinese take possession of the country. As mentioned, Baian-Kara-Ula is situated along the Chinese-Tibetan border but it suffered little, being a remote mountain range.
Once in the high mountains, Robin-Evans' Tibetan carriers decided to stay behind. They were afraid. The landscape had that sinister look and they wanted to return home. Their unwillingness illustrates how the Baian-Kara-Ula area was scarcely explored up until 1947, save the scientific expedition a decade earlier.
Dr Robin-Evans managed to reach his destination and gain the confidence of the Dzopa people. He was provided with a language instructor who taught him the basics of the Dzopa language.

Then, Lurgan-La, the religious leader of the Dzopa, told him the history of the tribe. He stated that their home planet was in the Sirius system. Lurgan-La explained that two expeditions had been sent to our Earth: the first, more than 20,000 years ago; the second in 1014 AD. During the 1014 AD visit, a few spaceships crashed; the survivors were unable to leave Earth. He said that the Dzopa are the direct descendants of those people.
Among the estate of Robin-Evans was a most remarkable photograph: the royal couple Hueypah-La and Veez-La. They measured 1.2 and 1.07 metres! Not only was their height small; their entire appearance could only be described as strange.
The important question was whether the “Dropa” and the “Dzopa” were one and the same tribes or different tribes. But Robin-Evans had apparently been aware of some controversy regarding that subject. Though “Dropa” was the correct spelling, “Dzopa” or, rather, “Tsopa” was closer to the correct pronunciation of the word. He felt it would be better to write “Dzopa”, as that was closer to the correct pronunciation (see Agamon [ed.], Sungods in Exile).

There were only two remaining problems. The date on the stone discs, 12,000 years ago, did not coincide with the statements of the religious leader: 20,000 years ago and 1014 BC. Furthermore, the discs appeared to contain statements by non-Dropa tribesmen describing the Dropa, but the stone discs were apparently written by the Dropa. Did some locals intermingle with the Dropa? Or was the information somewhat garbled? Though Hausdorf, Krassa and Robin-Evans have been unable to explain these contradictions, more research in the future might shed new light on that aspect of this intriguing case.
Hartwig Hausdorf hopes he will receive permission to enter the Baian-Kara-Ula mountain range to search for the Dzopa tribe people, should they still exist. But since the tribe was still in existence in 1947, there are probably living descendants today—except if the order of 1965 to “do away with all traces of the stone discs” has ended the tribe’s existence.
Hausdorf looked into the latest, 1982 list of recognised national minorities in China and learnt that the Dzopa are not recognised as a minority in their home province, Qinghai. Might they therefore no longer exist? The list does specify that 880,000 people are not recognised as ethnic minorities. They make up 25 tribes. Hence they might not be recognised, or they might be listed under a different name, as the Hanyu-Pinyin transcription ‘translated’ certain names completely differently from what they were before.
Another mystery with which Hausdorf battled was the name of Tsum Um Nei, a name that wasn’t Chinese. This fact had led to rumours that the man had never existed and was a figment of someone’s imagination. But an Asian friend of Hausdorf told him that “Tsum Um Nei” was a mixture of Chinese and Japanese. The Japanese pronunciation of the name had been written down in Chinese, just like any German named “Schmidt” would be named “Smith” in America. “Obviously the guy was Japanese,” Hausdorf realised, which would explain why the professor was able to return to Japan to retire.
Hartwig Hausdorf was able to prove that the stone discs and the Dzopa tribe really did exist. His next task is to find out whether their legend has come down accurately— and whether it might be true.

This article originally appeared in Nexus New Times Magazine, in 1995. For an update to this article, click here.