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Otzi Tattoos

Ancient Medical Knowledge Is Written in the Skin

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According to legend, twelve thousand years ago in western China the Sons of Reflected light came down from the skies. They were a strange race said to be seven feet tall and wearing clothing like nothing anyone had ever seen before, it reflected light thus giving them their name (Fankuang Tzu). If we were to talk about clothing today that reflects light the first thing most people would think of is space suits so perhaps these beings did literally come from the heavens. Where ever they came from they did so to teach mankind and it is said that they brought civilization to humanity in the form of the arts, textile manufacture, metallurgy, alchemy and many forms of medicine. Legend tells they took the most intelligent people and trained them in the various disciplines and skills, often for generations, children learning from their parents and so on until some centuries after their arrival the Sons sent their knowledge by way of their pupils out into the world and then they are presumed to have departed since they have not been seen since.

Five thousand years after the visitation of the ‘Sons Of Reflected Light’ a man died high in the Italian Alps with a flint tip buried in his back, a severed artery and his hand cut to the bone and while there are many hypotheses about how or why he died there is no doubt that his preservation is one of the most vivid glimpses ever given into our distant past. He carried with him the top technology of his time, fine arrow shafts and tips, fungi for healing and tender, a flint knife and shaft, exceptionally designed waterproof shoes, snow shoes, and a copper axe set on a finely crafted yew handle, a treasure in his time. Otzi the Iceman, as he has come to be known, was not without means as his personal goods reveal but he also carried something else that while not as tactile as a beautiful copper axe the presence of which does suggest a level of medical and anatomical knowledge not believed to be in practice for another two thousand years and a continent away; Otzi the iceman is tattooed with fifty seven lines, dots and crosses that mark acupressure and meridian points. 

Otzi the Iceman - TattooDetailed physiological examination has revealed that the iceman suffered from physical maladies that correspond to the tattooed areas such as arthritic disease processes in his spine, hips, ankles and knees. He also had tattoos marking meridian points used for addressing stomach and abdominal pain which he undoubtedly suffered from due to a nasty infestation of whip-worms.  In short, Otzi’s tattoos were definitely not random and exhibit a sophisticated understanding of the neural and energy pathways in the human body, the marks also display a remarkable resemblance to the trigrams of the I Ching, the ancient book of divination whose symbols are said to be older than recorded history and can be translated as a binary code.

Of course we have no reason to believe that Otzi tattooed himself. In fact, given the location of some of his tattoos it is highly unlikely. So Otzi was most likely tattooed by a shaman or medical practitioner who marked the area associated with his pain in order to treat him. It is possible that the tattooing process was the original treatment and the permanent marks served as a map for Otzi and anyone close to him to treat his pain with acupressure. It is also possible that the shapes of the marks are also not random and their meaning would assist another practitioner in Otzi’s treatment. The tattoo session would have probably given more extended relief and then the tattoos could be used as a guide for repeated long term pain management, it is even likely that the tattoo sessions were repeated over time. 

Otzi the Iceman is the oldest mummy found to date and he was tattooed for medical purposes so it stands to reason that the practice must have been fairly common unless the one tattooed man just happened to be preserved in ice for five thousand, not very likely. The real question here is how people barely out of the Stone Age knew the art of acupressure more than two thousand years before it is known to have been practiced in second century China and even more interesting is his treatments connection to the story of the Sons of Reflecting Lights.

When the giants were said to have first appeared in their reflective clothing they had powers unlike any human – they could see the light or aura that surrounds people and they could see the lines of energy or meridians that flowed through the people’s bodies. The acupressure points appeared to them as tiny points of light, whether this power was within the beings or achieved by some advanced technology we do not know but it allowed them to diagnose problems and cure them by restoring the flow of energy within the individual. The Sons of Reflected Light were said to be able to focus their mental energy on these points of light and heal the person. In the beginning they did not have to touch to heal but after many years it is said that they needed to actually touch the patient, almost as if some power source had been depleted.

While the organized practice of acupressure is documented in second century China in the Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine the earliest references to the technique of the practice can be found in much more ancient texts that indicate the technique was practiced in India, Nepal, Tibet and western China dating back at least seven thousand years. Did practitioners of this art, taught by the Sons of Reflected Light spread out across Asia and Europe healing and spreading the knowledge? Is this how Otzi the prehistoric European was marked with the healing points of an advanced system of pain management given to him by someone who understood the flow of the life force on a level that has been lost to modern medicine at least in the western world?  The legends of healers from the stars occur in cultures all over the world just as the practice of acupressure is preserved in the tattoos of mummies from Egypt, Europe, Siberia, the Aleuts and South America.

For many years mainstream archaeologists, influenced by their modern prejudices against the practice of tattoo have either ignored, minimized the importance tattoos on both natural and man-made mummies or they made up theories of the lifestyles of the tattooed individuals based on their preconceived notions of tattoos. Perhaps they should pay more attention to the signs etched in the skin and the stories they can tell us about the individuals who wore them and their connections to the mysterious healers from the stars who taught them how to heal with only a touch. 

By Margaret Moose



2. The Taoist Ways of Healing

3. Dorfer L, et al. A medical report from the stone age? Lancet Sep 18, 1999;354:1023-5.

4. Journal of Archaeological Science 37(12):3256-3262: 4. 2010




"The real question here is how people barely out of the Stone Age knew the art of acupressure"

i would say: Why should they not have known?
It seems to me that there is much knowledge, lost to us today.

I've been using Bowev accupressure and other methods for years and have always seen the body as an electrical circuitry. It's wonderful what it does combined with Reiki and Seichem. We have many remnants of wonderful healing techniques.

The Fankuang Tzu (Pinyin: Fanguang Zi 反光子) are described in the book "Taoist Ways of Healing" referenced in the main article, the description on the website link is slightly different. If you find any other sources of this legend please let us know.

Legendz Collective's picture

Interesting story. I haven't heard about the "Fankuang Tzu" before, and I may have to look it up further to verify their historical evidence. However, acupressure/acupuncture itself is indeed an ancient tradition that has been practiced for thousands of years. The article is correct that the Art of Pressure Points does predate organized Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as China wasn't the only country that knew this specific medical discipline. In Ayurveda (Traditional Indian Medicine), there is a branch of study called "Marma Chikitsa" where Vedic physicians would apply massage or poultice to "marmas" (pressure points). Applying pressure to these marmas (acupressure) would invigorate one's muscles - as well as to destroy them. "Marma Chikitsa" is taught in Ayurveda for the purpose of both protecting the human body's weaknesses as well as to heal injuries. Which is why "Marma Chikitsa" was also taught in martial arts in the Indian Subcontinent such as Kerala's "Kalaripayattu" or Sri Lanka's "Angampora". By learning where the marmas or pressure points are, martial artists could bring swift attack to their opponents' weak points - or heal their students. It is believed that Martial Arts was first developed in South India before spreading to China, Southeast Asia and Japan. If so, the Art of Acupressure + Acupuncture could have travelled all the way from the Indian Subcontinent together with the spread of martial arts. 

Another way to see it is that while the Indian Subcontinent may have first discovered the Art of Pressure Points, the Chinese and Tibetans could have perfected the art further in development. 

As for the "Fankuang Tzu", again I need more research on them. However, according to Vedic and Hindu-Buddhistic lore, the Himalayan Region was the Gateway between Deities and Mortals. The Himalayas was also the crossroads of various Eurasian cultures. It is said that all of the world's "rshis" (sages) gathered around the Himalayas where they held a conference on how to cure the various diseases of humankind. The sages meditated, researched and talked to the gods. In one incident, the sky god Indra (similar to the Greek Zeus and the Chinese Jade Emperor) met the sages and offered them the knowledge of medicine. Perhaps Indra and his heavenly host could have a connection to the "Fankuang Tzu".  Or perhaps the sages were the "Fankuang Tzu" themselves. Perhaps these sages, instead of just being holy men, could have been the Ancient World's version of today's scientists and researchers. 

In the legend, as the sages have finished their conference, they spread across various parts of the World from the Himalayas where they spread the art of medicine and knowledge. Maybe this was how Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine or even Greek Medicine could have been originated. And as the sages travelled across various lands and encountered local physicians, Medicine itself could have evolved even further.

Mythology aside, pressure points could also be learnt from the Natural World. Through trial and error, ancient physicians could discover where pressure points are. And by observing the Animal Kingom (e.g. a predatory big cat puncturing the pressure points of its prey's neck), these ancient physicians could have applied their visual findings to their medical advancement as well by comparing and contrasting.

Zuell's picture

There is too much worldwide evidence to ignore the possibilitiy of ET contact with ancient man, I believe it is how we first aquired our civilized knowledge, our religious beliefs and why we are where we at today. We advanced way too fast from caveman brutes to civilized societies in a matter of + or - 10,000 years. It should have took alot longer. We had help, and it wasnt from planet Earth.



margaretmoose's picture


Margaret Moose

Margaret F. Moose is a native North Carolinian. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she studied cultural and physical anthropology and fine art. She then attended the University of Pittsburgh and did graduate... Read More

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