How To Tell Russians From Ukrainians, Etc.
Print Friendly and PDF

A lot of people seem to have strong opinions about whether Russians or Ukrainians are whiter (depending on whom they favor and whether they think being white is okay or not). Myself, Russians and Ukrainians look a lot alike (although Russia the country is more of a multiracial empire). Here’s an old Soviet police rubric to help eyewitnesses guesstimate the ethnicity of perpetrators.

This reminds me of an article in the December 22, 1941 issue of Life magazine (which I found online at Vintage News Daily):

How To Tell Japs From The Chinese

Time-Life founder Henry Luce was born in China, the son of American Protestant missionaries. He was rabidly pro-Chinese (Chiang Kai-shek division). (By the way, shouldn’t Henry Luce have a longer Wikipedia article than this? He was likely the single most important figure in 20th century American journalism: a comparably important press baron, William Randolph Hearst, has about a 5 or 10 times longer article. By the way, 1980s movie star William Hurt, RIP, was Henry Luce’s step-grandson.)

Angry Citizens Victimize Allies With Emotional Outburst At Enemy

In the first discharge of emotions touched off by the Japanese assaults on their nation, U.S. citizens have been demonstrating a distressing ignorance on the delicate question of how to tell a Chinese from a Jap. Innocent victims in cities all over the country are many of the 75,000 U.S. Chinese, whose homeland is our stanch ally.

The worst rioting against Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor was by Filipino farmworkers in California, angry over the Japanese military attacking the Philippines.

So serious were the consequences threatened, that the Chinese consulates last week prepared to tag their nationals with identification buttons. To dispel some of this confusion, LIFE here adduces a rule-of-thumb from the anthropometric conformations that distinguish friendly Chinese from enemy alien Japs.

To physical anthropologists, devoted debunkers of race myths, the difference between Chinese and Japs is measurable in millimeters. Both are related to the Eskimo and North American Indian. The modern Jap is the descendant of Mongoloids who invaded the Japanese archipelago back in the mists of prehistory, and of the native aborigines who possessed the islands before them. Physical anthropology, in consequence, finds Japs and Chinese as closely related as Germans and English. It can, however, set apart the special types of each national group.

The typical Northern Chinese, represented by Ong Wen-hao, Chungking’s Minister of Economic Affairs (left, above), is relatively tall and slenderly built. His complexion is parchment yellow, his face long and delicately boned, his nose more finely bridged. Representative of the Japanese people as a whole is Premier and General Hideki Tojo (left, below), who betrays aboriginal antecedents in a squat, long-torsoed build, a broader, more massively boned head and face, flat, often pug, nose, yellow-ocher skin and heavier beard. From this average type, aristocratic Japs, who claim kinship to the Imperial Household, diverge sharply. They are proud to approximate the patrician lines of the Northern Chinese.

If you are interested, the website has the full captions.

[Comment at]

Print Friendly and PDF