I've been fascinated by the discovery of the Indo-European origin of the mummies in the Tarim basin. This article says:

The new finds are also forcing a reexamination of old Chinese books that describe historical or legendary figures of great height, with deep-set blue or green eyes, long noses, full beards, and red or blond hair. Scholars have traditionally scoffed at these accounts, but it now seems that they may be accurate.

Which Chinese figures supposedly had these European features? In which works do they appear? For example, Cao Cao in The Romance of the Three Kingdoms wouldn't have these features because he was Han (if I understood correctly). But who did?

I'm rather curious... might even blog about this on my website...

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    Almost all of them that dealt with international relations... This wasn't exactly obscure. "Green Eyes" was a classical term for barbarians, for instance. What scholar would even "scoffed" at this anyway? I'm not sure this Mair person's words should be taken at face value. – Semaphore Jan 25 '15 at 19:12
  • @Semaphore --- I'm not sure what scholar would scoff at the Chinese literature, but I have met people who believe the world is only 6,000 years old, and when I mention literature from my country that describes events that happened 10,000 years ago, they scoff at that – Glowie Jan 25 '15 at 19:25
  • @Semaphore here is a link, ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-asia/… that explains most mainstream historians do not believe that Ancient Humans traveled a lot, hence how can Europeans travel to the Far East – Glowie Jan 25 '15 at 19:37
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    That link doesn't explain anything. It just made an assertion and left it unsubstantiated. – Semaphore Jan 25 '15 at 19:51
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    Three Kingdoms was an organizational era of ancient China. Romance of the Three Kingdoms is, AFAIK, a computer game. I played the heck out of it on my Amiga, back in the day. – T.E.D. Jan 27 '15 at 15:05

First off, it really shouldn't shock anyone that some ancient mummies in the Tarim Basin show European-esque features. That is the far, far western extreme of what is now considered China. Until as late as the middle ages (6th-8th century AD) an Indo-European language was spoken there. It really shouldn't be surprising that an area whose culture left behind Indo-European writing and artifacts also left behind human remains that looked a bit like Europeans. So the reasonable assumption is that those mummies were Tocharians.

There are some other non Indo-European people in East (not Central) Asia with some seemingly "European" features, but by and large they are isolated groups who are not particularly historically important. Among the most intriguing (to me at least) are the Ainu, whose historical range is shown below. They have a lot of superficial resemblances to Europeans (although not in hair color), but are apparently not genetically related at all. Their language is an isolate.

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  • Since the question was mistakenly closed despite Glowie's cleanup, I can't post a separate answer. It's true there were local caucasians in Tarim from prehistory, but it'd be better if this lead answer also included mention of Alexander's Greeks in Bactria and their probable continuation as the Dayuan ('Great Ionians'?) defeated by the early Han dynasty. – lly Feb 29 '20 at 5:02
  • There's also the issue that the question as edited is more about the appearance of such figures in Chinese histories and stories, so the lead answer should at least discuss them. Cao Cao is described as medium height and small-eyed, which should mean 'for a typical Han man of the 14th century', but I'm sure caucasian-like people appeared in some of the actual Zhou and Han histories and travelogues. – lly Feb 29 '20 at 8:56

I'm not clear what your question is exactly. I believe it's were some of the blue-eyed or pale characters in Chinese legend based real people of European origin.

Pale skin and blue eyes aren't exclusively European. Kafiristan is an example of somewhere which has blue-eyed people. While living in Kazakhstan I once met someone (an ethnic Kazakh, not a Russian) who had ginger hair.

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    I updated the original question – Glowie Jan 25 '15 at 19:40

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