Archive for November, 2005

S’rivatsa and makara glyph compositions

November 26, 2005

Sarasvati metaphors of wealth

The curves tying up the central fish on s’rivatsa glyph or making up the makara composition are cephalopod spirals to denote that the glyphs are maritime/riverine treaures. See picture of a fossil of cephalopod. (Picture appended).

kaud.i enga = conch shell (Santali); enga mer.ed = soft iron (Mu.) The central fish tied to the cephalophoid pair is thus a representation of ayo ‘fish’; rebus: ayas ‘metal’ which is specified by the ligaturing cephalophoid, as soft iron. Surely, this becomes yas’as, jasa ‘prosperity’; rebus: jhasa ‘fish, the big fish’. On the Barhut stupa, the makara is emphatically ligatured to a cephalophoid by the curved glyph.

Photo of a nautiloid.

The coiled end of the nautiloid is mirrored on a makara glyph composition.

Makara Bharhut, c. 100 BC  Indian Museum, Calcutta  Something of the origin of the makara, or at least its early composition in India, can be seen here. The water beast, confined beneath a ledge with kneeling rams that represent the realm of land, is pictured here with the snout of a crocodile, the head and forequarters of an elephant, the body of a snake, and the fins and tail of a fish.


The shell component of this motif may be read as: ha_ngi snail (K.); sa~_khi possessing or made of shells (B.); ho~gi pearl oyster shell, shell of any aquatic mollusc (K.); ha_ngi snail (K.)(CDIAL 12380). gongha = snail’s shell (Santali). Cf. conch (English). Cypraea moneta or a cowrie used as a coin. Rebus: kangar ‘portable furnace’ (K.) A possible depiction of a kaula mangra ‘blacksmith’ working with s’ankha ‘shell’ and and indicaton of jhasa ‘fish’; rebus: jasa ‘prosperity, fame’.


Evolution of endless-knot or ‘8’ motif


 In an exquisite article on teuthid in Norse mythology, Adam Eli Clem tells us that teuthids (apart from nautiloids) are found in the Bay of Bengal and points to a representation of jormungander on a bronze relief. This is shown as item 6 in the illustration.

This creates a motif ‘8’ (number eight in Indian/Arabic numerals).


This ‘8’ motif (or entwining on itself) is remarkable by its presents in Sarasvati hieroglyphs, in particular, on copper plates and inscised on metal objects, pointing to a close association of the motif to a smithy.  Compilers of epigraphs have referred to this as an endless-knot motif.


This could indeed be a representation of a teuthid.


Endless-knot motif appears on the following objects:


1. Rojdi ax-head or knife of copper;

2. Sumerian cylinder seal (circa 2500 BCE); and

3. Early Dynastic seal from Lagash.


Rojdi. Ax-head or knife of copper, 17.4 cm. long (After Possehl and Raval 1989: 162, fig. 77

Cylinder seal impression. Sumer (ca. 2500 BCE). After Amiet 1980a: pl. 108, no. 1435

Early Dynastic seal. Lagash. After Amiet 1980a: pl. 83, no. 1099m1457Act m1457Bct 2904  Pict-124: Endless knot motif.


m1356 m443At m443Bt


m443Bt mer.ed, me~r.ed iron; enga mer.ed soft iron; sand.i mer.ed hard iron; ispa_t mer.ed steel; dul mer.ed cast iron; i mer.ed rusty iron, also the iron of which weights are cast; bicamer.ed iron extracted from stone ore; balimer.ed iron extracted from sand ore; mer.ed-bica = iron stone ore, in contrast to bali-bica, iron sand ore (Mu.lex.) me~e.he~t = iron (Santali)


mer.hao = v.a.m. entwine itself; wind round, wrap round roll up; mar.hna_ cover, encase (H) (Santali.lex.Bodding) [Note: the endless-knot motif may be a rebus representation of this semant. ‘entwine itself’]. med.ha_ = curl, snarl, twist or tangle in cord or thread (M.); meli, melika = a turn, a twist, a loop, entanglement; meliyu, melivad.u, meligonu = to get twisted or entwined (Te.lex.) merhao = twist (Mun.d.ari)


mer.go = with horns twisted back; mer.ha, m., mir.hi f.= twisted, crumpled, as a horn (Santali.lex.)


me~t = the eye


me~t me~t nepel = v. see face to face


Alternatives  :


Glyph: d.on.t.ho, dhon.t.ho, dhon.t.o a knot (Santali)


d.hon.d.-phod.o [M. dhon.d.a_, a stone] a stone-cutter, a stone-mason; d.hon:d.-jhod..o [M. dhon.d.a_ a stone + jhod.avum] a stone-cutter; a stone-mason; d.hon.d.o a stone; a blockhead; a stupid person (G.)


keccu the knot which is formed by twisting; to join the end of two threads by twisting them with the fingers (Ka.); kerci a knot (Tu.)(DEDR 1965). kars.ati draws, pulls (RV.)


kacc iron, iron blade (Go.)(DEDR 1096). kars.i furrowing (Skt.); ka_rs.i ploughing (VS.); kars.u_ furrow, trench (S’Br.); ks.i_ plough iron (Pr.); kas.i mattock, hoe (Pas’.); kas.i spade, pickaxe (Shum.); khas.i_ small hoe (Dm.)(CDIAL 2909). kr.s.ika, kus’ika, kus’i, kus’ira a ploughshare (Skt.Ka.)(Ka.lex.) kes.a plough (Pas’.)(CDIAL 3444). kis’ plough (Kho.)(CDIAL 3455). ks.e plough iron (Pr.)(CDIAL 2809). Mattock, hoe: kas.i mattock, hoe (Pas’.); Spade, pickaxe: kas.i spade, pickaxe (Shum.); kars.i furrowing (Skt.); kars.u~ furrow, trench (S’Br.)(CDIAL 2909).

“Figure 6 is a small bronze relief of Jormungander with what appears to be Thor’s hook in it’s mouth; there is a second, fainter groove cutting beneath the hook and running paralell to the jaw, but this could the result of a flawed mold. The large eye has been modeled completely, with pupil and iris, set within a head separated from the body by a series of joints or folds which encircle the cylindrical body. It is, in some respects, the most squid-like of the surveyed images, albeit one exaggerated in the other direction: rather than a grotesquely distorted manus, we see a radically stretched mantle.” Squid vs. Thor: Teuthid Imagery in Norse Mythology By Adam Eli Clem, 2003


26 November 2005

Makara, Kubera at Angkor Wat

November 26, 2005
Figure 073 on Sarasvati metaphors of wealth album at
Plate 82 of George Groslier depicts eight dikpala (together with the Sun); one shown on the right-most is Kubera on his vaahana, makara.
On the back of the animal one distinguishes the arm infér. Dr. of a divinity with Q arm which was lying there. The hand holds a ball.
It is suggested that this is makara, vaahana of Kubera who holds a ball on his hand.

George Groslier (1887-1945):


George Groslier accumulated the titles and the functions during a very whole carirère dedicated to Kampuchea. It was at the same time protective arts, man of science, écivain, ethnologist and novelist, photographer and draughtsman…

Born, in Kampuchea, February 4, 1887, wire of an administrator of the Non-military national services of Indo-China, it made its studies in France and studied painting at the school of the fine arts of Paris. Disappointed by a second great Price of Rome, it preferred to join its family and discovered Angkor. Returned to France, it multiplied the conferences and the works to make discover the Khmer art. What was worth a mission of the Ministry for the State education and Asiatique company to him in Kampuchea in 1913 and 1914. Mobilized then, it was called in 1917 by the general governor Albert Sarraut, who wished to awake within the Indochinese people the artistic traditions of the past.

He was the creator, the organizer and the first conservative of the Museum Albert Sarraut , in Phnom Penh (today Musée national), model of traditional architecture khmère, inaugurated in 1942. He made the sanctuary of Kampuchean art of it.

Previously it had taken part in the rebirth of the local arts and crafts. The royal Manufacture of the Palate, created in 1907 by king Sisowath to gather goldsmiths with his service, had April 1912, opened a professional section, the school of decorative Arts, including/understanding workshops of drawing, sculpture of wood and ivory, of work of copper, jewellery, goldsmithery, weaving and embroidery. This school vegetated. Into December 1917, George Groslier transformed it into School of Kampuchean Arts, where in two years the last main old men formed a hundred pupils, mixing the tradition and the modern taste. The graduate pupils created a co-operative which sold the production and was quickly famous.

Geoges Groslier, recognized like the renovating one of Kampuchean arts, organized the houses of Kampuchea to the Exposure of decorative arts (1925) and to the colonial Exposure (1931) in Paris. It took part in the establishment of the Schools of art of Bien-hoa and Hanoi like to that the higher School of the Art schools de Hanoi. Lyautey called it even in Morocco. Director of Kampuchean Arts, then general Inspector of Arts in Indo-China, it published many works on archaeology, the art and the esthetics of the Khmer country.

From 1926, it added to its activities a literary work, novels and accounts, of which the goal was to show the reactions of European vis-a-vis in Asia and its mysteries.


Sarasvati metaphors of wealth Part 5.4.3

November 24, 2005

Tibet – 16th century (7x6in)tempera on paper depicting a dakini with a makara-elephant trunk head.  Used in tantric meditation practice. Item 73 at








5.5 Cinnabar, sindhur, makaradhvaja


There is a Surya mandiram at S’ri Arasavalli (Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh, 7th cent.). “The description of Lord Sun is given in great detail in the Vis’wakarma S’ilpa as follows: According to this his chariot should have one wheel and the Lord should have a lotus in each hand and seven horses should draw the chariot. According to the Bhavishya Purana, on the right side the figure of Agni should be depicted and on the left that of Skanda. The Lord’s chariot is called Makaradhwaja. His two gatekeepers Danda and Pingala have swords in their hands.” 

Ananda Coomaraswamy has a chapter on the Makara in his book, Yaksas (1993 edn.), reviewing metaphors of vehicle of varuna, banner of kamadeva. . He describes it as a great Leviathan (serpent) moving through the waters. Given its representation as Capricorn, it has a reference to the cosmic ocean. Makara, together with gandharva, guard the gate into the sanctum, the elixir of immortality (amr.ta). Found placed together with Capricorn (makara), is Sagittarius (Krsannu) a gandharva archer protect the treasure, north of whom runs the great cleft of the Milky Way. Makara’s kala-mukha is life-devouring. He also notes that makara is vahana of Ganga (p. 143) who is also associated with the Milky Way. Makara becomes the source of lotus vegetation (of life) as it sprouts from its mouth or navel. He notes that the face of makara was not perhaps originally associated with kirtimukha (glory head). The metaphor of makara becomes a prominent feature at Angkor Wat which is samudra manthanam, the creation account. Cf. In Lingaraj mandiram, Orissa, a warrior is shown, in bas relief, collecting pearls from makara mukha. Deepak Bhattacharya notes that makara may also be connected with trade, Orissa had vibrant maritime activity. (An Ancient Hindu Royal Throne by Deepak Bhattacharya, loc. cit. A K Coomarswami; Yaksas Part II, Smithsonian Inst. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington DC, 1931, pp 47-56; R C Majumdar; Suvarnadwipa, Vol – I, 1986.

Products of two plants were traded in ancient times. One is boswellia sacra (yielding frankincense) and another was dracaena cinnabari (from which cinnabar was derived).


Dracaena cinnabari is found in Rolpa District of Nepal in the Himalayas, in what are called Skund mountains. Today, many maoist guerrillas operate in this district.


The fine clay that is to be found on the spot, for ever moist, where the heavenly Ganga falls down (upon the earth ) (on a space) thirty yojanas around, is called because of its fineness, `butter-clay.’ Samaneras who had overcome the asavas, brought the clay hither from that place. The king commanded that the clay be spread over the layer of stones and that bricks then be laid over the clay, over these a rough cement and over this cinnabar, and over this a network of iron, and over this sweet-scented marumba that was brought by the samaneras from the Himalaya. Chapter 29, The Beginning of the Great Thupa, The Mahavamsa.

Dracaena cinnabari is an endemic species of Soqotra Island. It is one of the six species belonging to the Dragon’s blood trees group, classified as follows: Monocotyledones, Liliales, Dracaenaceae. It is registered in the IUCN Red List of the Threatened Plants 2000 with the following abbreviation: EN B1 + 2c.

Dracaena cinnabari – The famous Dragon’s Blood Tree, whose resin was once a key export of the island (used in the manufacture of enamels, varnishes, tinctures, toothpastes, plaster and for dyeing horn to make it look like tortoiseshell), is on the island used mainly medicinally and as a dye or paint. The resin for export is made by boiling chunks of bark and underbark in a little water and then crushing them to a paste which is spread out on a flat rock surface to cool and dry. Before quite cold it is moulded by hand into shapes suitable for packing and onward sale. The resin most appreciated on the island, however, is that which exudes naturally from the tree itself when it comes into flower. It can only be collected by climbing into the tree and picking off the droplets where they have oozed from the base of the flowering shoots. This product is used to treat stomach problems, especially in women (for post-partum pains or for a retained placenta), as well as a variety of other complaints. The clay pottery of the island is often decorated with a vivid red paint made by warming the resin over the fire until it liquifies, and applying the paint with a bit of rag or a stick.


Leut. J.R. Wellstead (1835) made a survey of Soqotra for the Indian Government in 1834. He called this plant Pterocarpus draco. The finest examples of this are found on the higher slopes of the limestone mountains, particularly in the centre and east of the island.

There are four islands in the archipelago: Abd al Kuri, Samhah, Darsa and Soqotra. Soqotra is the largest island with a land area of approximately 3,500km². The other islands are a great deal smaller covering less than 400km².


Soqotra or Soqotra archipelago are islands, north-east of Somalia, 250 kilometres off the Horn of Africa. Cinnabar, the crimson red resin from the tree’s leaves and bark, was highly prized in the ancient world. It was used as a pigment in paint, for treating dysentery and burns, fastening loose teeth, enhancing the colour of precious stones and staining glass, marble and the wood for Italian violins.


The term ‘Dragons Blood’ refers to reddish resinous products (usually encountered as granules, powder, lumps (“cakes”), or sticks (“reed”) used in folk medicine as an astringent and for wound healing etc., and in other applications for colouring varnishes, staining marble, for jewelry and enameling work, and for photo-engraving. …Steam distilling of the resin from the tree can be carried out to produce an essential oil, and this has been sold into the aromatherapy & incense trade.

Perhaps the most striking plant on Soqotra is the Dragon’s Blood Tree (Dracaena cinnabari), distinguished by its mushroomshaped silhouette. Dragon’s Blood forest is a common sight above 500 m on Soqotra and in global terms represents a unique vegetation type. The tree’s nearest relative, in the Canary Islands (D. draco), is now almost wiped out in the wild. Pollen records indicate that 20 million years ago the trees stretched from the Canaries to southern Russia.

Dragon’s blood, a crimson resin obtained from the bark and highly prized since ancient times, Was used as a pigment in paint, for treating dysentery and burns, fastening loose teeth, enhancing the colour of precious stones, and staining glass, marble and the wood of Italian violins. Although no longer of commercial value, dragon’s blood is still an important resource for the Soqotrans. They use it to cure stomach problems, dye wool, freshen breath, decorate pottery and houses, even as lipstick. Soqotra pages of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh


Dragon’s blood, or cinnabar, is the resin from Dracaena cinnabari, a tree that grows on Socotra, an island in the Indian Ocean around 300 km south of the coast of Yemen. Socotra was also a source of spices in antiquity–aloes, frankincense and myrrh grow in abundance on this island–but the most bizarre of Socotra‘s natural resources by far is the Dragon’s blood tree. The tree is a member of the lily family. Its thick branches fan out from the trunk, each with a tuft of spiky leaves at the end, to form a cone-shaped canopy. Strangely enough, this tree is a member of the lily family. Its berries are cherry-sized and pointed and when ripe they are covered with a red resin, the Dragon’s blood, which is removed by steaming or shaking the berries or extracted by boiling the fruits. The resin is very brittle and is often sold in beads or tears, in sticks, irregular lumps, or in a reddish powder form.


Dragon’s blood was considered a very powerful medicine because it was thought to be a mixture of dragon and elephant blood. According to Pliny, the tree sprang up after a fight between an elephant and a dragon. Richard Eden, a sixteenth-century navigator, outlined the myth of how it was created:


[Elephants] have continual warre against Dragons, which desire their blood, because it is very cold: and therfore the Dragon lying awaite as the Elephant passeth by, windeth his taile, being of exceeding length, about the hinder legs of the Elephant … and when the Elephant waxeth faint, he falleth down on the serpent, being now full of blood, and with the poise of his body breaketh him: so that his owne blood with the blood of the Elephant runneth out of him mingled together, which being colde, is congealed into that substance which the Apothecaries call Sanguis Draconis, that is Dragons blood, otherwise called Cinnabaris.

Dragon’s blood is a very good dye; it was used as a colouring for varnishes and for dyeing horn to imitate tortoiseshell. In Soqotra it is used as a pigment for decorating pottery and as a remedy for eye and skin diseases and for stomach and headaches. Spices, Gold and Precious Stones: The South Arabian Spice Trade by Alexandra Porter

Mercury is a metal that has been of great alchemical importance in ancient times. In ancient China there is evidence that mercury was used by the latter half of the first millennium BC mercury while mercury metal is reported from Hellenistic Greece. Mercury is a volatile metal which is easily produced by heating cinnabar followed by downward distillation of the mercury vapour. Some of the earliest literary references to the use of mercury distillation comes from Indian treatises such as the Arthashastra of Kautilya dating from the late first millennium BC onwards. Some evidence for mercury distillation is reported from the ancient Roman world.

In India, vermilion or cinnabar i.e. mercuric sulphide has had great ritual significance, typically having been used to make the red bindi or dot on the forehead usually associated with Hinduism. Ingeniously in ancient Chinese tombs cinnabar was used successfully as a preservative to keep fine silks intact. Mercury was also at the heart many alchemical transmutation experiments in the Middle Ages in Europe as well as in Indian alchemical texts which were precursors to the development of chemistry. Metallurgical heritage of India, S. Srinivasan and S. Ranganathan, Department of Metallurgy, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 

cf. Mahdihassan, S: Cinnabar-Gold as the best Alchemical Drug of Longevity, called
Makaradhwaja in
India, Am. J. Chinese Med., 13:93-108, 1985.


Makara’s association with the hindu alchemical tradition points emphatically to the glyptic representation of antimony which could be alloyed with other metals (and hence, the ligaturing elements of the makara glyphs which include the fish, alligator’s snout, elephant trunk, and elephant legs).


5.6 Kubera’s navanidhi


The orthographic and s’ilpa traditions which embody the mleccha language of the times, enable an interpretation of Kubera’s navanidhi:


padma  (lake in Himalaya with minerals and jewels)

mahapadma (lake double the size of padma in Himalaya with minerals and jewels)

makara  (Synonym of Padmini, black antimony)

nila (Antimony)

mukunda (quicksilver)

kunda (arsenic)

kharva (cups or vessels baked in fire or iron)

kachchhapa (tortoise or turtle shell)

sankha (conch shell)


Note: Code of Sarasvati hieroglyphs are explained elsewhere in detail. Kalyanaraman, S., 2004, Sarasvati (7 volume encyclopaedic work), Bangalore, Babasaheb Apte Smarak Samiti.


S. Kalyanaraman

24 November 2005

Sarasvati metaphors of wealth Part 5.4.2

November 24, 2005

Makara on a key, an insignia of guarding. Makara has the trunk of an elephant, the body of a fish, the feet of a lion, the ears of a hog, the teeth of a monkey and the tail of a swan. This enormous key is for the entrance to the Gadaladeniya Temple near Kandy, Srilanka and is looked after by the monks from a nearby monastery.


Jambhala, Kubera,Bihar, 9th cent. Basalt stone. 40 cm. screen/P4000/4687-3.JPG

Karnataka Yaksha couple 9th-10th century. Schist; H69.9 cm  Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena.

Maharashtra, Ajanta Cave 2 Jambhala or Kubera with his consort late 5th century

 Pawon mandiram, 2 km. east of Borobodur, Central Java,Indonesia. Mandiram for Kuvera. Many dwarves are depicted pouring riches over the entrance.

Kuber in shantinath mandiram,10th cent. Kambadahalli, Mandya, Karnataka

Kuvera yaksha. Barhut.

Murti of Kuvera, Cave 33, Ellora, 9th cent.

Kuvera and Hariti; from Sahri-Bahlol

Makara as the vaahana of dikpa_la, Kubera, Prasat Phanom Rung, Khmer. A clear ligature creating a fabulous animal with the body and feet of elephant, trunk of elephant to the snout of an alligator.

At Prasat Phanom Rung, Khmer, Kuvera as guardian of the north, is shown seated on a makara.

Kuvera/Jhambala 9th cent. Bronze, Java. Eight pots connote eight nidhi on the pedestal. Kuvera is seated on the ninth nidhi, padmini or Makara nidhi. “A small bronze figure from Central Java of the god of wealth. He is shown as a plump child with a fat belly: a symbol of prosperity. The god is wearing a lot of jewellery: bracelets and anklets, a broad necklace, a diadem and a cord around his neck. Adorning the plinth are eight money pots. Although the pots are sealed with cloth tied with cords, we can see jewels bulging through. The god’s lotus throneLotusThe lotus symbolises many things in the Hindu and Buddhist religions. Because the flower appears to emerge from its own root it symbolises divine birth and purity. The lotus is the attribute of Bodhisattva Guanyin (Avalokiteshvara). The Hindu god Vishnu is also shown with a lotus flower. Goddesses depicted as the acquiescent partner of a god are often shown holding a lotus. Deities, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas generally stand or sit on a lotus throne: a pedestal in the form of a lotus flower. rests on a stalk sprouting from a large money pot. Chains of jewels are pouring from this pot and two others under his feet which have been knocked over. This god features in two religions: in Hinduism his name is Kuvera and in Buddhism he is known as Jambhala. Which of the two is depicted here is unclear.”


Bombay museum. Provenance unknown. A yaksha and a yakshini offering prayers to a seated anthropomorph Nandi with a pot-belly. Nandi is a member of S’iva’s gan.a (army) in bharatiya tradition just as Gan.apati (with the head of an elephant) is also part of the gan.a. Sadashiv Gorashkar who delivered the Platinum Jubilee lecture (1996) on Yaksha who cites this image, seems to interpret the murti as a representation of Kubera  yaksha. The face of a bull is ligatured to a seated person with a ponch belly carrying a club on one hand  and possibly plumbs on the other hand. This could be a representation of Kubera as a veda purusha. S’iksha is the nose of the vedapurusa, Vyakarana his mouth, Kalpa his hand, Nirukta his ear, Chandas his foot and Jyotisa his eye. Veda purusha is shadangapurusha, with six limbs

Plumbs found in the eastern corridor of Prasat Phanom Rung, Khmer.


Plumbs are mostly regarded as construction tools… 




Yaksha is a pan-bharatiya metaphor.


Pot-bellied dwarfs (gan.a) are shown carrying the architrave of western gate of Sanchi stupa.

An anthropomorphic murti of Nandi together with Ganes’a appears in Nanjangud mandiram, a representation of the marriage of S’iva and Parvati. Representation of Ganes’a and Nandi in comparable s’ilpa is indicative of both Ganes’a and Nandi being part of S’iva gan.a and hence, nandis’vara may be taken as a representation of Kubera, a yaksha.

A bauddha text refers to Vishnu as a yaksha (loc. cit. in the lecture by Sadashiv Gorashkar).

In the Durga mandiram at Aihole, there is a murthi of S’iva shown with a Nandi and also a dwarf representing gan.a, on the side, relating the vaahana to Kubera as the dwarf.


A comparable sculpture is at Pattadakkal showing in Vrupaksha mandiram, Harihara, carrying a s’ankha on his left hand, with a gan.a carrying a tris’ula on the right.

Egypt Bes. depicted as a deformed dwarf. 3rd century BC.
India and Egypt – edited by Saryu Doshi p. 70 – 71).

According to S’ivapurana, Nandi, Kalabhairava (Mahakala) are part of S’iva gan.a; Nandikeshwara may be an evocation of two dva_rapa_la yaksha called Nandishvara and Mahakala. “These two temple guards, Nandishvara and Mahakala, belong together. They once kept watch over a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva. Nandishvara stood guard on the left of the entrance, and Mahakala on the right…Nandishvara means: lord of Nandi. Nandi, a bull, is the animal on which the god Shiva rides… These reliefs of volcanic stone were made on the Indonesian island of Java in the ninth century. ” Riks Museum, 9th cent. Volcanic Stone. 77 cm.

A yaksha (Kubera) depicted with a naravaahana shown with a deva and holding a pagoda, representing him as the builder, vis’vakarma. Gandharan sculptural tradition.

She is called yakshini chulakoka. That she is shown riding an elephant and embracing a tree trunk are significant hieroglyphs. Kut.i ‘tree’; rebus: kut.hi ‘furnace, smelter’; ibha ‘elephant’; rebus: ib ‘iron’. Chulakoka is a metaphor for an iron smelter, furnace. The two circles highlighting the nave are: eraka ‘nave’; rebus: eraka ‘copper’; san:gad.a ‘pair’; rebus; san:gad.a ‘furnace’. Cu_l.ha means a hearth, a fireplace of smiths.  Yaksha, yakshini were smiths, artisans, vis’wakarma who could sculpt, work with metals and produce the monuments of Sanchi, Barhut, and rock-cuts of Ajanta, Ellora. They are the creators of a revolution in civilization with the invention of metal alloys.

Here is a yaksha and yakshini shown at Tiyambakes’war, Nasik, standing atop lotuses, metaphors of wealth. (Padmini = lotus = makara = black antimony which could have yielded kr.s.n.a_yasa mentioned in Atharvaveda).

Kubera, a yaksha and yakshini (apsara) shown on a relief at Borobodur temple, Indonesia.

The metaphor of wealth depicted by the artisans, the vis’vakarma, is the ligatured metaphor called, ‘makara’ as shown on another sculpture at Borobudur.

See gilt bronze Makara finial from Tibet (13th-14th cent.) sold at Christie auctions.

For example, at Candi Plaosan Lor of Mahayana bauddham, kala-makara is shown with a pair of kinnara atop on either side of the entrance. Candi Plaosan is a mandiram complex, a kilometer Northeast of Prambanan village on the outskirts of modern Yogyakarta

Makara at entrance of Kalasan Chandi in Prambanan. Indonesia. 9th C.



Sarasvati metaphors of wealth Part 5.4.1

November 24, 2005

5.4 Makara means ‘alligator shaped’


Maka means ‘alligator shaped’ in Bhagavatam 3.15.41, 3.28.29.


man:gar. an alligator; man:gar. calaoena he has gone to shepherd the alligators, i.e. he is dead and his ashes are thrown to alligators into a tank (Santali.lex.) muduga alligator, crocodile; = gra_havis’esa (Pkt.). man:guro a kind of sea-fish (S.); man:gar-macho whale (S.)> ma_ngar crocodile (Balu_ci_.Iranian); makara sea-monster (Pali); magara, mayara shark (Pkt.); makara crocodile (VS.); miyaru shark (Md.); magar crocodile (H.G.). [The NIA forms with -g- or -ng- are considered loans from Pkt. or Skt. or directly from non-Aryan sources from which these came.](CDIAL 9692). cf. maccha fish (Pkt.Pali)(CDIAL 9758). Alligator: makaram crocodile; shark (Ci_vaka. 170); one of the nine treasures of Kube_ra; a great number (Na_mati_pa. 801); a royal insignia; decorative designs about the dais built for seating the bride and bridegroom at the time of marriage; love; makarikai the figure of shark, as in ornaments (Kampara_. Nintan-ai. 1); makara-k-kot.iyo_n- Ka_ma, as having the emblem of fish on his banner; makara-san:kira_nti, entrance of the sun into capricorn (I.M.P.Sm. 13; I.M.P.Cg. 1193); makara_yan-am winter soltice (Ta.lex.) makara-mi_n shark; makara-mukam a gesture with one hand in which the thumb and the forefinger are held upright while the other fingers are held together and apart from them; makara_layam sea, as the abode of fish; makari sea; makarai a sea-fish (Ta.lex.) Image: alligator; vehicle of varun.a: na_kra a kind of aquatic animal (VS.) negar.., negar..e, negar..u, nakra alligator; negar..de_ra Varun.a (Ka.lex.); negal.u id.; negaru a sea-animal, the vehicle of Varun.a (Tu.); negad.u a polypus or marine animal supposed to entangle swimmers (Te.); nakra crocodile, alligator (Mn.)(DEDR 3732). na_ga a shark (Ka.)(Ka.lex.) cf. nakula a mungoose (Vedic.Pali.lex.) cf. makara crocodile (VS.); man:gar id. (Sant.)(CDIAL 9692). naka big-nosed (K.)(CDIAL 7037). na_kk(h)u_ long-nosed (Ku.); n.akka nose (Pkt.); nakh id. (Gy.); nok (D..); naka big-nosed (K.); nakk nose (L.P.WPah.); na_ id. (N.A.); id. (B.Mth.); (Bhoj.H.G.M.); na_ka (Or.); na_kh (Ku.); nakut.u (Si.); nakra nose (Skt.)(CDIAL 6909)., nose (Can..Aka.; Ya_r…Aka.)(Ta.lex.) nakel wooden or iron pin fixed in a camel’s nose (P.H.); bullock’s nose-rope (N.)(CDIAL 6910). { cf. vehr.a_ octopus said to be found in the Indus (Jat.ki_ lex.)} < Drav. and poss. connected with makara-).[Perhaps, the morphme: magar- clashes with naya a bait for alligators (Ma.Tu.)(DEDR 3603) yielding: nakra.] cf. na_, na_kku, na_vu tongue (Ta.Ma.); na_lika id. (Kond.a.Te.)(DEDR 3633). naka big-nosed (K.)(CDIAL 7037). nakkaram < nakra crocodile ( : Kampara_. Nat.pu-k-ko_t.. 68)(Ta.lex.) nakkiram alligator (Civataru. Cuvarkkanaraka. 117); nakkira-p-palakai a plank supported by the image of a crocodile (nakkira-p-palakaiyu nar-uca_n tammiyum : Perum.. Ucaik. 38,171)(Ta.lex.)


‘kar fish’ of Ahuramazda swims in Vourukasha, guarding the haoma tree of life. (loc.cit. Bundahis, XVIII; Yasna, XLII. 4, in: Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, 1989, “What is Civilisation” and Other Essays, Cambridge: Golgosova Press,  pp. 157-167.)


The sea-dragon of Marduk, Mesopotamia. This is different from a makara since it shows the body, legs and tail of a lion while the face which resembles a goat or antelope together with the snout of an alligator, is comparable to that of a makara. “That composite animal-form of the rain-god of the Euphrates people, the horned sea-goat of Marduk (immortalized as the Capricornus of our Zodiac), was also the vehicle of Varuna in India, whose relationship to Indra was in some respects analogous to that of Ea to Marduk in Babylonia. In his account of Sanchi and its ruins General Maisey, as quoted by Smith, states that: "As to the fish-incarnation of Vishnu and Sakya Buddha, and as to the makara, dragon or fish-lion, another form of which was the naga of the waters, the use of the symbol by both Brahmans and Buddhists, and their common use of the sacred barge, are proofs of the connection between both forms of religion and the far older myths of Egypt and Assyria." Havell is of the opinion that the crocodile-dragon which appears in the figure of Siva dancing in the great temple of Tanjore, may have been older than the eleventh century when the temple was built.” (Ernet Ingersoll, 1928, Dragons and dragon lore, New York, Payson and Clarke Ltd.)

Makara from Amaravati and makara from Chichen Itza (Heine-Geldern and G.F. Ekholm) Source: India and World Civilization – By D. P. Singhal. pp  58-59).

Makara has the properties of the crocodile, the elephant, the antelope and the dolphin. Its representation may be of combination of some, or all of these animals, therefore it may have a trunk, antelope horns or various other aspects. The association of makara with weapons is seen in the representations on hilts of ancient Malay weapons called kris in regions such as Sulawesi, Sumbava, Java, Sumatra.

  Java Pedang hilt

Sumatra Pedang hilt

Sumbawa Parang hilt



Detail of Vajradhatumandala Gate with Makara. Mural of the temples of gLo sMon thang. The ancient kingdom of gLo, is also known by its Nepali name – Mustang. Vajradhatumandala (rDO rje dbyings kyi dkyil ‘khor) is the Mandala of the Thousand Buddhas.

Chiang Mai was the capital of the kingdom of Lanna (the kingdom of a million fields), in Thailand. Chiang Mai owes her existence to the Ping River which facilitated trade with China. “The Naga is seen pouring out of the mouth of a Makara, a creature that combines the crocodile, the elephant and the serpent. They are aquatic servants of Varuna, a powerful Vedic god. In Vedic mythology Varuna controlled not only the waters, but also controlled the means that produced the cosmos.”

Makara, 15th cent., Auckland museum

Australian aborigines consider makara to be the seven sisters who eventually became the Pleiades.

A representation of makara (fish + elephant head) on a painting. Provenance unknown.


Makara Fish Earthenware Only 23 of these glazed earthenware tiles are known in the world, and the ROM now has 15 of them. In addition to a Makara-fish, these tiles show a bird with two human heads, a boar with antlers, a flying horse with four eyes, and other creatures. Northern Qi Dynasty, 2nd half of 6th century AD, Royal Ontario Museum. Tannenbaum gift.

Makara giving life to an Asura, sandstone, 10th-11th century, Tra Kieu, Duy Xuyen district, Quang Nam province, Vietnam.

MAKARA (myth.), a god ruling the tides—(loc. cit. J. White, Ancient History of the Maori, iii. 49; Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary). Makara is the name given to the wives of the stars in the Orion constellation. (Australian aboriginal: Adnyamathanha tribe).

The identity of indo-iranian speakers remains an elusive problem; C.C. Lambert-Karlovsky et al. note, after reviewing the cumulative results of archaeological investigations in Central Asia and Eurasia: “This review of recent archaeological work in Central Asia and Eurasia attempts to trace and date the movements of the Indo-Iranians speakers of languages of the eastern branch of Proto-Indo-European that later split into the Iranian and Vedic families. Russian and Central Asian scholars working on the contemporary but very different Andronovo and Bactrian Margiana archaeological complexes of the 2d millennium b.c. have identified both as Indo-Iranian, and particular sites so identified are being used for nationalist purposes. There is, however, no compelling archaeological evidence that they had a common ancestor or that either is Indo-Iranian. Ethnicity and language are not easily linked with an archaeological signature, and the identity of the Indo-Iranians remains elusive.” [C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, David Anthony, Yannis Hamilakis, Johann Knobloch, Philip L. Kohl, János Makkay, J. P. Mallory, Sandra L. Olsen, Colin Renfrew, András Róna-Tas, and C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, 2002, Archaeology and Language, Current Anthropology, volume 43 (2002), pages 63–88.]

The problem remains elusive because the IEL assumptions are wrong and methods shaky. The assumption that PIE split into Indo-Iranian and Vedic is not proven. Proto-Vedic Continuity Theory provides a a framework to isolate language interactions during neolithic (farming), chalcolithic (copper and stone) and metals-age exchanges between a dominant Sarasvati civilization area and nearby cultures. (Notes at )

That is, the bronze > iron sequence may have to be discarded given the 2nd millennium finds of iron smelters in Ganga basin (Malhar, Lohardiwa and Raja-nal-ki-tila cf. Rakesh Tewari ).

men~ca = fish roe (Or.) matsya fish (RV); maccha, macchi_ fish (Pali); me_c (Nin:g); mechli_ (Pah.); ma_chali_ (Omarw.); maci (Kt.)(CDIAL 9758). man~chari_ fisherman (L.)(CDIAL 9762).


maccu, maca-ppon-, maccam = piece of gold kept as a sample (Ta.); macca, maccu = little piece of gold or silver taken by the goldsmith from what was given to him and returned to the owner to be kept as a sample or test (Ka.); macca id. (Tu.); maccu = the touch of precious metals, specimen, standard, quality (Te.)(DEDR 4629). men~ca_ = lump (Or.) men.d.a_ = lump, clot (Or.) mede = a crude mass (Ka.) meduka = greasiness or dirt in the hair, clottedness (Te.)  [Rebus: me_n.d.ha = ram (Skt.)(CDIAL 10310). Note the glyph of ‘fish’ ligatured on a copper anthropomorph which is orthographically a depiction of the curved horns of a ram.]


matsya = a mole on the body (M.); masa_ wart, mole (H.); maja, maje a natural speck, spot, mole (Tu.)(DEDR 4632)

Vyaala-yaksha depicted frontally grasping the tails of two makaras. The makaras are depicted in profile swallowing the vyåla-yak?a’s legs. Fish tails protrude from each side of the vyaala-yaksha’s head.Reference: Hackin 1939, p.63, fig.73, 74. Plate no. 285, 286, Begram Ivories Catalogue Number: 30.I.002 Technique: Flat Relief/Openwork Material: Bone? Size: 11.9 x 0.9 cm

A vyaala-yaksha is depicted holding the tails of two makaras, different in style from the other vyaala-yakshas plaques. The tails of the makaras do not resemble fishtails but are of a leaf-like design. The figure does not appear to be wearing fishtails at the side of its head and its dhoti is made up of petal-shaped pieces.Technique: Openwork Material: Bone Size: 8.1 x 10.5 cm Motif: Yaksas Reference: Hackin 1939, p.102

Makara is ligatured as an aquatic elephant. In Norse lands, a horse-headed sea-water animal or water-serpent is called Nykkur (also, Nennir); also called kelpie comparable to a naga. In old Greek, Makara means "blessed." Since many East European people accepted Christianity from the Greeks, many of these peoples have Makara in the root of their last names: Makarios (Greeks), the given name Makar gave rise to a number of last names Makarov (Russians), Makarenko (Ukrainians).

The eagle motif alternates with the depiction of the vyala-yaksi. Plate 293 Begram ivories.


Animals and Makara; what is shown in the middle flanked by two lions could be s’rivatsa

Lions, elephants and other powerful or wild beasts were often shown in stupa reliefs protecting the stupa from evil spirits.

This scene shows lions and a makara. Makaras were alligator-like creature with a fish’s tail. Sometimes Makaras also had an elephant’s trunk.

Makaras were mythological crocodile-like creatures. They are sometimes represented with the head of an elephant and the tail of a fish. Makaras appear frequently in the reliefs from Amaravati to protect the Stupa from evil spirits.

Makara gargoyle, Bhaktapur, Nepal


Architectural Piece with Makara, c.1100. Vietnam: ancient Champa kingdom Sandstone
35-1/2 x 41-3/8 in. (90.2 x 105.1 cm) Norton Simon Art Foundation M.1977.20.1.S
[lower left] Shown in profile, a mythical aquatic creature (makara) is about to swallow a male figure who holds a sword. Extracting pearls from the makara’s mouth?

[upper right] This "Celestial Female" may represent the river goddess Ganga.


 “The jaws of this mythical aquatic animal are wide open. It has an elephant’s trunk, ram’s horns, snake’s teeth and slit eyes. Between the impressive jaws sits a small lion. Strings of pearls pour from the lotus. The lotus symbolises many things in the Hindu and Buddhist religions. Because the flower appears to emerge from its own root it symbolises divine birth and purity. The lotus is the attribute of Bodhisattva Guanyin (Avalokiteshvara). The Hindu god Vishnu is also shown with a lotus flower. Goddesses depicted as the acquiescent partner of a god are often shown holding a lotus. Deities, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas generally stand or sit on a lotus throne: a pedestal in the form of a lotus flower. above the trunk. The being is a makara, a mythical animal, which features in both hindu and buddha traditions, originated in Northern India and spread to the South and later to the mainland of South-East Asia and Indonesia. The religion has no founder but developed over a period of centuries out of India‘s various pantheistic cults. Nor is it based on a single text. There are countless writings, tales, myths and legends. One key feature of Hinduism is the notion that all living beings form part of an eternal cycle of reincarnations from which humanity can only break free with immense effort. The existence of the world is also seen as part of this cycle. Creation came about, it exists and it will once more be destroyed. In the course of time a new world era will dawn again. This process continues throughout eternity. Three gods are central in Hinduism: Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. They form a divine trinity. Of these, it is Vishnu who preserves creation and Shiva who is the destroyer. The Hindu divinities are worshipped both in temples and in the home. and BuddhistBuddhismBuddhism is the religion of the followers of Buddha, who lived in the plains of Northern India, around the river Ganges in the 6th century BC. The essence of Buddhism is to achieve Enlightenment. This is the state of release from the suffering of existence, of escape from the spiral of reincarnation. A Buddhist can achieve this by fulfilling life’s various functions correctly, for example by making the right decisions and by meditating in the proper manner. Buddhism spread from Northern India across large parts of Asia, to Southern India, Southeast Asia, the Indonesian archipelago, China, Korea and Japan. In the course of time numerous cults and movements emerged within Buddhism that often differed considerably. In Northern India Buddhism was replaced in the 12th century by Islam, while in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia it continued to prosper. Islam also replaced Buddhism on the Indonesian islands, but in China, Korea and Japan the latter still remains the dominant religion. art. Makaras usually flanked the entrance to a temple or adorned an alcove or either end of a flight of stairs. The decoration of a temple entrance would consist of two makaras and a kala head, a monster’s head which served to deter people with bad intentions. This makara once adorned the entrance to a ninth century temple on central Java.” Volcanic stone, 97 x 91 x 45 cm, AK-MAK-247 Rijksmuseum



Sarasvati metaphors of wealth Part 5.1 to 5.3

November 24, 2005

Part 5. Makara, mangar macho, nidhi, vaahana of Kubera


5.1 Mleccha, the Sarasvati artisan’s language


What could be a large jhasa, that is makara, is depicted on a cylinder seal with Sarasvati hieroglyphs.


A pair of fishes, a pair of water buffaloes, a pair of horned snakes surround a person wearing buffalo horns with leafed branch of a fig; he sits on a throne with hoofed legs; another figure fights two tigers and is surrounded by trees, a markhor goat and a vulture above a boar. Musee du Louvre /AO (Collection De Clercq 1.26). Cylinder seal. Provenance peraps Near Eastern origin. cf. Asko Parpola, 1994, Fig. 10.10, p. 186


Surrounded by fishes, gharials (alligators, makara?) and snakes, a horned person sits in ‘yoga’ on a throne with hoofed legs. One side of a triangular terracotta amulet (Md 013); surface find at Mohenjo-daro in 1936. Dept. of Eastern Art, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.


Rhinoceros, elephant, gharial. Tell Asmar, Mesopotamia. Cylinder seal (IM 14674);Glazed steatite, ht. 3.4 cm. cf. Frankfort, 1955: no. 642; Collon 1987: no. 610; cf. Asko Parpola, 1994, Fig. 1.6, p. 11)


On epigraphs m0410 and m1429, the scale of fish is orthographically ligatured to the snout of a crocodile. If crocodile or alligator is: (Ta.) or mangar (Santali), the scale of fish is a~s (Santali). The rebus lexemes are: d.han:gar ‘smith’ + ayas ‘metal’, i.e. metal-smith.

Pict-68: Inscribed object in the shape of a fish.The fish glyph alone is adequate to complete the inscription on some objects: m0410 Pict-64: Lizard (gharial?) snatching, with its snout,  the fin of a fish har607 Steatite tablet, incised [1993-1995 excavations]      

m1429At m1429Bt Pict-125: Boat. m1429Ct 3246 Gharial holding a fish in its jaws: side cof a prism tablet in bas-relief)

Kalibangan078A Kalibangan078B 8104 (Tablet in bas-relief; on one side, gharial holds a fish)

m0489At m0489Bt m0489Ct Glyphs on m0489A: elephant trunk, boar/rhinoceros, tiger, tiger face turned, lizard with fish: furnace types; Glyphs on m0489C: young bull, antelope, bullock, brahmani bull, lizard with fish.

h172b Kalibangan078A Kalibangan078B

Side B shows a gharial (alligator) holding a fish in its snout.

m440AC m0441At m0441Bt m1393t m1394t m1395At m1395Bt 

On these tablets, two short-horned bulls facing each other on the top register.

m0295 Pict-61: Composite motif of three tigers joined together. 1386 


Glyph: samna samni = face to face (Santali) Glyph: homa = bison (Pengo)

Rebus: samanom = gold (Santali) hom = gold (Ka.); soma = electrum (RV)


 (Gharial or lizard is in the centre, surrounded by other animals) The obverse of these tablets seems to contain a string of tiger heads as in m-1395 a. kuduru = lizard (Santali) kudur d.okka = a kind of lizard (Pa.); kudur d.okke, kudur d.ekke = garden lizard; kidri d.okke house lizard (Go.)(DEDR 1712). d.okke = lizard (Kol.); d.okka (Pa.); d.okod. (Ga.); dokke garden lizard; d.oke lizard; dokke_ small lizard; pidri_ dokke_ the house-lizard; d.ogga_l chameleon (Go.); d.o_ki lizard (Kond.a); d.oi chameleon (Kui); d.rui’i lizard (Kuwi); droi, d.orgi, d.rogi chameleon; d.ro_gi lizard (Kuwi); tuska (Kur.)(DEDR 2977). [Note the glyphs of what is often called the gharial or alligator; could it be the common house lizard?]

5.2 Stone Lizard (not a gharial)

Dholavira. Stone sculpture of monitor lizard. Stone sculpture of monitor lizard is a pointer to the identification of the commonly-occurring glyph as a lizard (and NOT an alligator or gharial).


That it is a lizard and not a gharial (alligator) is surmised from the find of a monitor lizard in the round, made of stone and discovered at Dholavira, a site which has some remarkable workings in stone including stone-cut reservoirs and stone drains.

Rebus: kuduru = a goldsmith’s portable furnace; kudul.l.u (pl.) (Te.lex.) kudru top of fireplace (Kuwi)(DEDR 1709). ibha = elephant (Skt.) Rebus: ib = iron (Santali)

tagara = antelope (Skt.) Rebus: t.agromi = tin (Kuwi) ga~r.i = a monkey (Santali.lex.) gar.i = the macaque, macacus sinicus, a long-tailed monkey; smaller than sara, the hanuman ape (Mundari.lex.) gat.t.i = ingot (Te.)


kan:gar ‘portable furnace (K.) kan:g portable brazier (B.) kha~_g (H.) kha_g (B.H.Ku.N.); khagga = rhinoceros (Pkt.)


5.3 Anthropomorph (copper) with ‘fish’ sign


A remarkable legacy of the civilization occurs in the use of ‘fish‘ sign on a copper anthropomorph found in a copper hoard. This is an apparent link of the ‘fish’ broadly with the profession of ‘metal-work’. The ‘fish’ sign is apparently related to the copper object which seems to depict a ‘fighting ram’ symbolized by its in-curving horns. The ‘fish’ sign may relate to a copper furnace. The underlying imagery defined by the style of the copper casting is the pair of curving horns of a fighting ram ligatured into the outspread legs (of a warrior).


A ‘fish’ sign incised on an ‘anthropomorph’ from Sheorajpur (Kanpur Dist., UP, India), typical of the Gangetic Copper Hoards 47.7 X 39 X 2.1 cm, c. 4 kg. Early second millennium BC. State Museum, Lucknow (O. 37); cf. Asko Parpola, 1994, Deciphering the Indus Script, Cambridge Univ. Press, Fig. 4.2, p. 55. With curved horns, the a’anthropomorph’ is a ligature of a mountain goat or markhor (makara) and a fish incised between the horns. Typical find of Gangetic Copper Hoards. 47.7 X 39 X 2.1 cm. C. 4 kg. Early 2nd millennium BCE.


The center-piece of the makara symbolism is that it is a big jhasa, big fish, but with ligatured components (alligator snout, elephant trunk, elephant legs and antelope face). Each of these components can be explained (alligator: manger; elephant trunk: sunda; elephant: ibha; antelope: ranku; rebus: mangar ‘smith’; sunda ‘furnace’; ib ‘iron’; ranku ‘tin’); thus the makara jhasa or the big composite fish is a complex of metallurgical repertoire.)


One nidhi was makara (syn. Kohl, antimony); the second was makara (or, jhasa, fish) [bed.a hako (ayo)(syn. bhed.a ‘furnace’; med. ‘iron’; ayas ‘metal’)]; the third was kharva (syn. karba, iron).


me~r.he~t iron; ispat m. = steel; dul m. = cast iron; kolhe m. iron manufactured by the Kolhes (Santali) kaulo-mengro of Gypsy is literally an ‘iron smith’.


kol is a smelter (Santali)


kohl is black eye-ointment (H.) kohle ‘coal, black sedimentary rock’ (G.); coal ‘coal’ (Eng.) koela, kuila ‘coal’; koela khad ‘a coal mine’ (Santali)


Ko. kayr charcoal, soot; Ta. kari (-v-, -nt-) to be charred, scorched, become black; (-pp-, -tt-) to char; n. charcoal, charred wood, lampblack; Tu. kardů black; karba iron; Go. (Tr. W.) karw-, (SR. Ph.) karv-, (Mu.) kar-, ka- to burn ( intr. ); (G. Ma. Ko.)  (DEDR 1278) One of Kubera’s navanidhi was kharva which could be explained as ‘baked pottery’ an item of wealth. It could also have meant karba ‘iron’ (Tulu).


Bed.a hako (ayo) ‘fish’ (Santali) Rebus: med. iron (Ho.); me~rhe~t ‘iron’ (Santali)  me~r.he~t iron; ispat m. = steel; dul m. = cast iron; kolhe m. iron manufactured by the Kolhes (Santali); mer.ed (Mun.d.ari)(Santali.lex.Bodding) mer.ed, me~r.ed iron; enga mer.ed soft iron; sand.i mer.ed hard iron; ispa_t mer.ed steel; dul mer.ed cast iron; i mer.ed rusty iron, also the iron of which weights are cast; bicamer.ed iron extracted from stone ore; balimer.ed iron extracted from sand ore; mer.ed-bica = iron stone ore, in contrast to bali-bica, iron sand ore (Mu.lex.)


Bronze head of ibex. Iranian. C. 600-500 BCE. Ht. 14 in. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Copper Hoard culture artifacts: a. antennae hilted sword; 2. anthropomorph; 3. harpoon. [After Fig. 6.1 in DP Agrawal, 2000].

Caches of finds in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh yielded tools of various types: rings, flat and shouldered celts, trunnion axes, anthropomorphs, swords, double-edged axes, harpoons, socketed axes. Piggott identified these hoards with Harappan refugees. Heine Geldern (1936: 87-88) theorized that the trunnion axe came from Transcaucasia via Persia in c. 1200-1000 BCE. Originating from the Danubian region, the axe-adze also reached India via Iran in c. 1200-1000 BCE and the antennae swords were influenced by the Koban examples dateable to c. 1200-1000 BCE. BB Lal  showed that the trunnion axes, the Fort Monroe sword, the socketed axe and axe-adze never occurred in the doab but were confined ot the north-western part of the subcontinent. As a corollary, he showed that the harpoon, the bracelet and the anthropomorph were never found west of the doab. He also noted that the antennae swords of the doab were cast as a single piece, unlike the Koban specimens. Socketed axes and adzes reported from Chanhu-daro, Mohenjodaro and even from Mundigak Period III, are found in much earlier contexts than c. 1200-1000 BCE claimed by Heine Geldern. It is, therefore, clear that the relationships and migrations suggested by Heine Geldern are not tenable. [BB Lal, 1951, Further copper hoards from the Ganga valley and a review of the problems, Ancient India 7: 20-39; DP Agrawal, 1982,  The Archaeology of India, London, Curzon Press.].   


“The most distinctive and enigmatic type is the anthropomorphic figure…I have examined several specimens from different museums and found three main features in the anthropomorph: externally sharpened and incurved forearms; plain hind limbs; and a thickened head. It was perhaps used as a missile to kill birds as the sharp arms could cut the bird, the thick head could stun it and the incurved arms could entangle and bring it down. The head was the thickest part and the extremities had thinner cross-sections. An experimental model, when thrown, went in a whirling fashion and seemed to make a trajectory which made one suspect a boomerang-like effect…at Bisauli harpoons and anthropomorphs occur together; at Bithur antennae swords and harpoons are associated; antennae swords and anthropomorphs were found together at Fatehgarh…Lal (1972) associates the Copper Hoards with the Mundari-speaking Australoid tribes of the primeval Uttar Pradesh but YD Sharma identifies them with the Late Harappans. Sankalia sees West Asiatic influence even in the Ochre Coloured Pottery (OCP), especially in the handled and spouted pottery of Saipai. I have suggested a Central Himalayan affiliation (Agrawal 1999). Thus identification of the authorship, at present, is purely a game of guess-work. There are two significant finds of Copper Hoards from Kumaun, one from Bankot and the other from Haldwani…at Bankot, a hoard of 8 anthropomorphic copper objects was discovered…” [DP Agrawal, 2000, pp.105-7]. 

“Discovery of the anthropomorphs in Kumaon and Nepal leaves no room for doubt…there is a community of the coppersmiths called Tamtas. They are traditional coppersmiths.” [MP Joshi, 1995-96, The anthropomorphs in the Copper Hoard culture of the Ganga valley: Puratattva 26: 23-31]. [Note. damr.a ‘steer, heifer’; damr.i, dambr.i, damt.i ‘one-eighth of a pice (copper)’; tambra ‘copper’].

Says Krishna, explaining his manifestations: I am the wind among the purifiers, and S’ri Rama among the warriors. I am the makara among the alligators (jhasa_na_m makarascasmi), and the Ganga among the rivers. (Bhagavadgita 10.31) Makara occurs in Vajasaneyi Samhita, XXIV. 35; simsumara in Rg Veda, I. 116. 18.


Makaradhvaja. “The rasasastra texts give details of the preparation of a large number of medicines, and their therapeutic effects as well as their dosages. One of the popular preparations called Makaradhvaja contains specially processed mercuric sulphide and stimulants like camphor, pepper and cloves. During its preparation a certain amount of purified gold is also added.” Transmutation Ancient Indian Concepts and Practices by B. V. Subbarayappa


“A drug of longevity, prior to alchemy, was peach, from which the god of longevity has emerged. Alchemy began by synthesizing red colloidal gold with gold to make the body ever-lasting and redness, as soul, to make life eternal. Its climax was reached with cinnabar-gold, which is blood-red, while red-gold is only brick-red. It was called Makaradhwaja in India. There have been fertility gods. Hermes was one and Alchemy has been named a hermetic art. Makara was crocodile-cum-fish, god of fertility. Makaradhwaja means Emblem of god of fertility, signifying a drug conferring vigour of youth.” Mahdihassan, S. (1985) – Cinnabar-gold as the best alchemical drug of longevity, called makaradhvaja in India, American Journal of Chinese Medicine 13, 93-108.


The metaphor of makara can be understood only in the context of hindu thought as it has evolved over millennia using the evidence provided by s’ilpas’aastra and the texts.


Makara is a ligatured metaphor of a maritime-riverine civilization. It has, in many combinations, one or more of the following ligaturing components creating the composite, fabulous motif: the tail of a fish or snout of an alligator ligatured to the trunk of an elephant, body of an antelope (sometimes of serpent), forelegs of an elephant (sometimes forepaws of a lion). A number of artistic variations also exist. Makara goat or markhor is Capricorn.


Seal impression. Mohenjodaro showing snake hoods.




Makara, mountain goat

   Makara fish


In Sindhi language, mangar macho means ‘a whale’. In Santali, manger means ‘an alligator’. This alligator may be the central component of the makara which is the best of large fishes, jhasa.

Nangar ‘carpenter’is identified as a word from a substratum language in Sumeria, together with other words such as simug ‘smith’, pahar ‘potter’, damgar ‘merchant’, tibira ‘metal worker’, engar ‘farmer’. (Samuel N. Kramer, The Indus Civilization and Dilmun: The Sumerian Paradise Land, Expedition, Vol. 6, No. 3, 1964, pp. 44-52).

In the continuum of hindu-bauddha tradition, makara is the va_hana of Varun.a, divinity associated with the sea and waters. Makara is also associated with the River Ganga. Dhvaja means ‘a flag, a banner’. Makaradhvaja ketana means ‘the sea’, ‘name of ka_madeva’; makaradhvaja means ‘a particular array of troops’ (Manu 7.187); ‘a particular medical preparation’; makara ‘a particular magical spell recited over weapons (R.); ma_kara = relating to the sea-monster; a mine of makara, the sea (Skt.) The semantics related to weapon and mine point to the association of makara with minerals. 3732 Ka. negar, negare alligator. Tu. negalu id.; negaru a sea-animal, the vehicle of Varuna. Te. (B.) negadu a polypus or marine animal supposed to entangle swimmers. / Cf. Skt. nakra- crocodile; nakra- a kind of aquatic animal; Turner, CDIAL, no. 7038: nā́kra— m. ‘a kind of aquatic animal’ VS., nakra—1 m. ‘crocodile, alligator’ Mn. [← Drav. and poss. conn. with makara— J. Bloch BSOS v 739] Pa. nakka— m. ‘crocodile’, Pk. akka— m., Ku. nāko m., H. nākā m., Si. naku. — H. nākū m. ‘crocodile’ associated by pop. etym. with nāk ‘nose’ < *nakka—, cf. Ku. nakku ‘long—nosed’. na_ka_ crocodile (H.); naku (Si.); na_ku_ crocodile (H.); nakku long-nosed (Ku.); nakra a kind of aquatic animal (VS.); crocodile, alligator (Mn.); nakka crocodile (Pali); n.akka (Pkt.); na_ko (Ku.)(CDIAL 7038).


negar.., negar..u, jegar..e an alligator; nakra; negar..de_ra Varun.a (Ka.lex.) avaha_ra, avaharan.a taking away; stealing, plundering (Ka.lex.) avaha_ra shark or another large water animal; gra_ha, negar.. (Ka.); apaha_ra stealing, snatching away (Skt.lex.)



Sarasvati metaphors of wealth Part 4.2

November 24, 2005

4.2 Furnaces


The main type of the Sintashta metallurgical furnaces were small domeshaped furnaces with

diameter about 0,8 – 1 m [3]. Some of them were joined to wells and had flues. Wells provided a supply of air in furnaces. Flues appeared after the beginning of sulphide ores exploitation to remove injurious gas from dwellings. These furnaces had multifunctional character. The furnaces of Sintashta settlements; 1,3,4 – Arkaim; 2 — Sintashta

“According to E.N.Chernykh metallurgists of Sintashta time used two main sources of raw material: copper ores from sandstone’s  on western slopes of the Ural and ores from Tash-Kazgan deposit [5, p. 28]. The latest source was the  most important, because its ores consisted arsenic. The smelting of these ores resulted in production  of natural bronzes. However, my investigations of ores allowed me to make another conclusion. The  ores from Sintashta settlements did not consist arsenic. On the other hand, the slags consisted the

more high content of this element. The most part of ores was mined from deposits in serpentine, though the ore-bearing rock of Tash-Kazgan deposit is quartz. All that means the follows: metallurgists alloyed copper with arsenic on an ore-smelting stage.”


The Investigation of Bronze Age Metallurgical Slags  of the Sintashta Culture in the Southern Ural by S.A.Grigoryev


Metallurgists of Sintashta of 18th cent. BCE had alloyed copper with arsenic on an ore-smelting stage.

Shape of furnace at Harappa is comparable to the one at Sintashta.


Harappa had a number of furnaces. Harappa is loated at the confluence of two sukhra_va_s (dry beds of the Ravi river), 15 miles WSW of Montgomery town. Copper objects found: a two-wheeled copper chariot, copper antimony rod stopper, copper mace-head, copper beads, ornaments. A large hoard of copper and bronze implements was found in a copper jar No. 277, Mound F: one hundred weapons, implements, utensils both finished and unfinished, cast bars, lance-head, bangles, thick sheet of copper with hammer marks (EH, 470-73). In 48 samples examined, the percentage of arsenic (harita_l) ranged from .3 to 7 percent); the percentage of tin ranged from 1 to 14 percent. Rajputana mines contain As (Arsenic) and Ni (Nickel) . Sources of tin were Hazaribagh, Bihar and Mesopotamia. A simple tin solder of its alloy with lead and soldering of silver and gold were used. In Mound F, 16 furnaces have been discovered: (a) part of round pottery jar; (b) cylindrical pits dug in the ground with or without brick lining; (c) pear-shaped pits dug in the ground with or without brick lining. Jar-furnace filed with charcoal fuel is still in use by goldsmiths in the region. Some furnaces were found with ashes and quantities of vitrified slag. In many furnaces, there is a small rectangular pillar or sometimes a wall set at the back and an air passage for the circulation of heat between itself and the back wall.


4.3 Circular platforms at Harappa and metal-working

That a circular platform was used by a coppersmith has been confirmed by the Padri site excavations by Dr. Vasant Shinde.  This was the house of a coppersmith.

 Circular platforms excavated by Vats at Harappa (After Slide 353,, Kenoyer, 2003)

Kenoyer and Meadow report about the functions served by circular platform discovered, during 1998-2000 season, in Mound F (out of a total of 19 platforms discovered so far): "Detailed documentation of the stratigraphy and features in the levels above the platforms revealed that the rooms continued to be used after the construction of the platform. The new excavations did not reveal any evidence for grain processing and there was no evidence for a wooden mortar in the center. Some straw impressions were found on the floor to the south of the circular platform, but microscopic examination by Dr. Steve Weber confirmed that these impressions were of straw and not of chaff or grain processing byproducts.

However, recent excavations of the Harappan Phase copper working areas (Meadow, Kenoyer and Wright 2000) and the large number of copper objects recovered from the earlier excavations provide strong evidence for a long tradition of copper and bronze working at the site (Kenoyer and Miller 1997)…


Additional areas adjacent to the newly discovered platform were opened up in 1998 through 2000 to investigate the nature of the Period 3C occupations and to locate the western perimeter wall of Mound F (Meadow, Kenoyer and Wright 1998; Meadow, Kenoyer and Wright 1999; Meadow, Kenoyer and Wright 2000).


"Most of the baked-brick walls in this area have been robbed, but occupational deposits, including living surfaces and house floors, are intact. Numerous inscribed objects were discovered in 1999 including a spectacular seal with the unicorn motif and a long inscription in the Indus script. Measuring 5.2 x 5.2 centimeters square, this is one of the largest seals found at Harappa and is in almost perfect condition (Figure 4.3). Such seals would have been used by powerful officials, merchants or landowners to seal goods and documents. Many small inscribed and molded tablets have also been found in this area during the last two years of excavations. These tablets may have been used as credit tokens or amulets… A large kiln was also found just below the surface of the mound to the south of the circular platforms. The upper portion of the kiln had been eroded, but the floor of the firing chamber was found preserved along with the fire-box. Upon excavation it became clear that this was a new form of kiln with a barrel vault and internal flues (Figure 9). This unique installation shows a clear discontinuity with the form of Harappan pottery kilns, which were constructed with a central column to support the floor (Dales and Kenoyer 1991). Radiocarbon samples taken from Harappa Phase hearths in the domestic areas and from the bottom of the Late Harappan kiln will help to determine if these installations were in use at the same time or if the kiln was built in an abandoned area after the Harappa Phase occupation. It is possible that people using Late Harappan style pottery were living together with people using Harappan style pottery during the Period 4 transition between Periods 3C and 5. "

Harappa 1999, Mound F, Trench 43: Period 5 kiln, plan and section views


4.4 Bone fish glyph, smelted iron


badhor, badhor.ia = crooked, cross grained, knotty (Santali.lex.)

badhor. ‘a species of fish with many bones’ (Santali)

badhia, bathor. = a boar (Santali)


Rebus:, = smelted iron, that is, iron worked in a smithy.  This seems to be the early semantics of the lexeme as gleaned from the following entries. = country-smelted iron; in contrast to cala_ni mer.ed, imported iron (Mu.) muruk = the energy of a blacksmith (Mundari.lex.) = a blacksmith; kudlam = a country made hoe, in contrast to cala_ni kudlam, an imported hoe; = (Santali.lex.) badhoria ‘expert in working in wood’(Santali) bad.hi ‘a  caste who work both in iron and wood’ (Santali) bari_ = blacksmith, artisan (Ash.)(CDIAL 9464). The occurrence of bari_ in Ash. (CDIAL 9464) and in Mundari and of vardhaka in Skt. point to the early phonetic form: bard.a; semantic: worker in iron and wood, artisan. bar.hi, bar.hi_-mistri_, bar.u_i_, bar.u_i_-mistri_ (Sad.H. barha_i_) = a professional carpenter. This class of artisans is not found in purely Munda villages because every Munda knows carpentry enough for all his own purposes; trs. caus., to make somebody become a professional carpenter; intr., to call someone a carpenter; cina ka_m koko bar.hi_akoa? What kind of artisans are called carpenters; bar.hi-n rflx. v., to train oneself for, or to undertake, the work of a professional carpenter; bar.hi_-o, v., to become a professional carpenter; bar.hi_ kami = the work, the profession of carpenter, carpentry; bar.hi_-mistri_ a professional carpenter (Mundari.lex.) bari_ = blacksmith, artisan (Ash.)(CDIAL 9464). “Although their physique, their language and their customs generally point to a Kolarian origin, they constitute a separate caste, which the Mundas consider as inferior to themselves, and the Baraes accept their position with good grace, the more so as no contempt is shown to them. …In every Munda village of some size there is at least one family of Baraes…The ordinary village smith is versed in the arts of iron-smelting, welding and tempering, and in his smithy, which is generally under one of the fine old large trees that form the stereotyped feature of the Mundari village, are forged from start to finish, all the weapons and the instruments and implements the Mundas require. There are of course individuals who succeed better than others in the making of arrows and various kinds of hunting-axes and these attract customers from other villages… they dig the kut.i (smelting furnace), they prepare and lay the bamboo tubes through which the air is driven from the bellows to the bottom of the furnace, they re-arrange the furnace after the lump of molten metal has been removed from it, and then the smith starts transforming it into ploughshares, hoes, yoking hooks and rings, arrow-heads, hunting axes of various shapes and sizes, wood axes, knives, his own implements, ladles, neat little pincers to extract thorns from hands and feet, needles for sewing mats and even razors. Formerly, he was also forging swords…susun-kanda (dancing-sword)…If it appears too bold to attribute the invention of iron smelting and working to some of the aboriginal inhabitants of this, in many respects so richly blessed part of India (Chota Nagpur), it is certain that no land in the world is better qualified to push man to this invention. The excavations made recently (in 1915) by Mr. Sarat Chandra Roy, the author of the Mundas and their Country have shown conclusively, that it was inhabited by man in the stone age, the copper age and the early iron age. Baraes are also found in the villages of Jashpur, Barwai, Biru, Nowagarh, Kolebira and Bano from which the Mundas have been either driven out by the Hindus or crowded out by the Uraons. There they have adopted the Sadani dialect but retained their own social and religious customs. In the districts named above they are called lohar or loha_ra, but in Gangpur they go under the name of Kamar. These Kamars are animists like the Lohars, but they use tanned hides for their single bellows, which they work by bulling, like the blacksmiths in Europe. The Lohars say that is is on account of this that they do not intermarry or eat with them any more. Baraes, Kamars and Lohars must not be confounded with the Aryan blacksmiths also called Lohars. These latter differ not only in race from the first but also in their methods of working. The Aryan blacksmith does not smelt iron, and uses only the single-nozzled hand bellows. He is met with only in such Chota Nagpur villages, where colonies of Hindu or Mohammedan landlords, merchants, money-lenders and native policement require his services, especially to get their bullocks and horses shod…The account the Baraes, Lohars and Kamars generally give of themselves is as follows: they say that they descend from Asura and Asurain, i.e., Asur and his wife, and that they were originally of one and the same caste with the Mundas. In this the Mundas agree with them… If the iron smelters and workers of the legend really belonged to the Munda race then their trade and art must in the beginning have given them a prominent position, such as is held in some ancient races by smiths…Like the Mundas they formerly burnt their dead, the bones of those dying out of their original village were carried back to it in a small earthen vessel into which some pice were placed, and this was then dashed to pieces against a rock in a river…Like the Mundas they practise ancestor worship in practically the same forms. Like them they worship Sin:bon:ga, whom the Lohars call Bhagwan… They also worship Baranda Buru whom the Sadani-speaking lohars call Bar Pahari… = the rice beer which has been brewed by the whole village, one pot per house, in honour of the Barae, and is drunk with him, at the end of the year; = a country-made hoe, = country-smelted iron; in contrast to cala_ni mer.ed, imported iron; = the energy of a blacksmith.” (Mundari.lex., Encyclopaedia Mundarica, Vol. II, pp. 410-419).

Sarasvati metaphors of wealth Part 4.1

November 24, 2005

Part 4. Bharatiya metallurgical tradition


4.1 Yakshini, divinities of the hearth


A reference to itinerant metal-smiths who make arrows of metal, in the Rigveda (9.112.2) will have to be re-evaluated in the context of this evidence.


jarati_bhih os.adhi_bhih parn.ebhih s’akuna_na_m
ka_rma_ro as’mabhih dyubhih hiran.yavantam icchati_ (RV. 9.112.2)

This is a description of a smithy, perhaps an allusion to the making of copper reducing the ores. The metalsmiths sold the products (a copper implement or copper-tipped arrow or golden ornament) to moneyed-people.


a_la_kta_ ayomukham is.u (RV. 6.75.15): reference to poison and metal-tipped arrow.

r.s.t.i: a_sr.ukmaira_ yudha_ nara r.s.va_ r.s.t.i_h assr.aks.ata (RV. 5.52.6): javelin thunder spear

brahman.aspatireta_ sam. karma_ra iva_dhamat
deva_na_m. pu_rvye yuge asatah sadaja_yata (RV. 10.72.2): reference to metalsmith who blows in a furnace and makes metal objects.

kr.ti: has.tes.u kha_dis’ca kr.tis’ca (a guard and a sword)(RV. 1.168.3)

ks.ura: yada_ te va_to anuva_ti s’oirvapteva s’mas’ru vapasi prabhu_ma (RV. 10.142.4): With the wind at its back, fire wipes out the trees and forests and ‘shaves’ the land just as the barber shaves (with a razor).

khanitra: khanama_nah khanitraih (RV. 1.179.6): by the digging spade

kha_di: kha_dayo (RV. 7.56.13): shoulder decoration, sword?

paras’u: s’is’ite paras’um. sva_yasam. (RV. 10.53.): sharpened metallic axe.

pra_ca_ gavyantah pr.thupars’avo yayuh da_s.a_ ca vr.tra_ hatama_rya_ni ca (RV. 7.83.1): with big axes came to the east came the cow-plunderers — the da_sas as well as some a_ryas.

va_s’i_: va_s’i_ a_yasi_ (RV. 8.29.3): bronze tool-chisel, axe or adze. The neolithic one was as’manmayi_ va_s’i_ (RV. 10.101.10) made of stone.

svadhiti: ks.n.otren.eva svadhitim sam. s’is’i_tam (RV. 2.39.7): sharpen the swords/axes on the whetstone. means a sword?


Yakshini are bronze age divinities of the hearth. They are workers with fire, the crucible and the forge who could produce jewellery of immense beauty, as also thunderbolt vajra for Indra, metallic tools of immense utility and weapons. The running theme is the recurrent destruction and renewal of the cosmos, visarga and sarga, destruction and creation described by the metaphor of the cauldron of the smith or yaksha.

A cylinder seal of Gudea of Lagash (2143-2124 B.C.) read: "copper, tin, blocks of lapis lazuli– bright carnelian from the land of Meluhha." (Muhly, J.D., 1976, Copper and Tin, Hamden, Archon Books, pp. 306-7). 


There could be an abiding association between metallurgy and kingship as evidenced by the word kavi which in Old Iranian means ‘poet, smith’ and a cognate word kayanides become the warriors and rulers of ancient Iran. Kavyava_hana in Rigveda is fire, the carrier of oblations offered in fire together with the metaphor of fire as the priest (agnim i_l.e purohitam), the carrier.


Many metaphors are unique to smiths of antiquity across civilizations, leading us to surmise that they were the same people of a maritime and riverine civilization of Indian Ocean rim with facility of movement on boats across long distances in search of minerals. Deformity of body seems to a characteristic of ancient smiths. Latin Volcanus was " bearded, sometimes with a slight facial deformity which doubtless recalled his infirmity,"and Volcanus’ anvil, hammer and tongs were imported from Greece. ( G.H. Luquet et al, New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, Hamlyn, 1968). Greek Hephaestus, son of Zeus and Hera, was born with twisted legs and a dislocated hip, was thrown into the seas and picked up by two nymphs and would later fashion objects of gold and bronze, apart from building palaces for divinities on Mount Olympus. Hephaestus was helped in his various underground forges by Cyclopes who had one eye. Kensai (meaning ‘sword saints’) in Japanese folklore were farmer warriors.


Smiths were manufacturers of tools, and also weapons and hence responsible for supporting the soldiers carrying weapons to defend their communities. Tools made by smiths created a veritable revolution in civilizational history.


Who first engaged in alchemy, created the metals’ age, sought the veins of iron, learnt about the characteristics of minerals through experience, tempered the blades in oil 50 or 60 times and used many alloys of copper to make tools? Little people. Little people did work in the mines and smithies. Historical traditions across cultures associate dwarfs and elves with mining and smithy. Kubera and yaksha are the little people, the dwarfs who were involved in smithy, working with minerals, metals, alloys and furnaces, as demonstrated by the decipherment of Kubera’s navanidhi. An early center of iron manufacture seems to have been Ganga river basin, Illyria and Thrace. The little people are found as inspired, experimenting, itinerant explorers, naanaa des’eeya as many bharatiya epigraphs proclaim, they are like the gypsies. Maybe, they were the proto-gypsies.


Monbiot asks: ‘Why are the same myths associated with the blacksmiths all over the world?” ["Smith and the Devil" by George Monbiot, an essay published in Country Living Magazine]


Skanda Purana, describes a yaksa:“This mighty lion which was born from the anger of the Goddess will be your vehicle and he will be on your banner, O Goddess. Go to the Vindhya mountains and there do the work of the gods, killing Sumbha and Nisumbha, Taraka’s generals. This Yaksha, known as Pañcala, is given to you as your servant, endowed with hundreds of feats of magic illusion and attended by one hundred thousand Yaksas.” (Hindu Myths 1975:259).


KTM Hegde and Ericson, J.E., 1985, Ancient Indian Copper Smelting Furnaces, in: Furnaces and Smelting Technology in Antiquity, ed. P.T. Craddock, Occasional Paper No. 48, British Museum, London, pp. 59-67: The survey covered six ancient copper ore mining and smelting sites in the Aravalli (Arbuda) hills extending over a thousand kms.: Khetri and Kho Dariba in NE, Kankaria and Piplawas in the Central part and Ambaji in SW.. A large majority of mine-pits measure 7-8 metres in dia. and 3-4 metres deep showing evidence of fire-treating of the host rocks on the mine walls to widen rock joints. The evidene indicated probable mining in the chalcolithic period. Timber supports recovered from a gallery at a depth of 120 metres at Rajpura-Dariba mines in Udaipur District were radio-carbon dated to 3120+_ 160 years before the present (1987). This correlates with the zinc-containing copper artefacts of Atran~jikhera. Finely crushed ore was concentrated by gravity separation at the smelting sites which were invariably close to the banks of hill streams. This helped separate gangue from the ore. Smelting charge was by crushed quartz equal to the weight of the ore, crushed charcoal twice the weight of the ore. Furnace walls showed evidence of residues of small, hand-made, fistfuls of spherical lumps. The smelter furnace was a small, crucible-shaped, clay-walled, slag-tapping deice worked on forced draught from bellows; ‘this simple furnace appears to have been continuously used in India over the millennia without little innovation.’ It would appear that the facilities in the metropolis of the civilization on the banks of Sarasvati and Sindhu were only purification and fabrication facilities with limited or no smelting operations. Bun-shaped copper ingots from Ganeshwar taken through the riverine routes were perhaps carried by itinerant metal-smiths of the copper-hoard culture and fabricated in cities like Mohenjodaro and Harappa to meet the specifications of the consumers of this doab or the Tigris-Euphrates doab.


"Detail of the iron pillar at Delhi.  Its rust-free surface is evidence of the superior quality of traditional technology.  Iron beams used in the temples of Konark and Puni in coastal Orissa are further examples of the rust free nature of traditional Indian iron."

"The amazing metal mirror of Aranmula.  Its highly polished and reflective surface acts as a high quality and distortion free mirror that equals any of today’s glass mirrors."


Kautilya’s magnum opus, the Arthashastra, is regarded by many a scholar as the last word in sense and cunning. Here, we briefly focus on the former aspect! Written in the fourth century BC, the work discusses metals and minerals, the purification of their ores, the extraction and working of metals, as well as their alloys. On one hand, the book suggests the purification of ores by chemical treatment with iron or alkalis (i.e. plant ashes). On the other, it recommends the use of charcoal and chaff (waste products of food preparation) in limekiln and for smelting iron. Clearly, recycling mattered! In addition, there are pointers to the location of mineral deposits.


Varahamihira in the sixth century AD indicates the hardening of steel in his Khargalakshanam:: ” The red hot steel should be plunged into a solution of plantain ashes in whey, which is kept standing for twelve hours and then it should be sharpened on the lathe.”

Vrinda discussed the process of killing iron (i.e. obtaining iron oxides). He insists that iron first be ignited in fire and then immersed in the juices of Emblic myrobalan and Trewia nundiflora. Next, it should be exposed to sunlight, and then again macerated in certain other plant juices. Last, it should be placed in a mortar and rubbed.


The twelfth century Tantric text Rasarnava holds forth on the colour of flames, the processes of killing metals, and the test of a pure metal. The last – ”A pure metal is one which when melted in a crucible does not give off sparks nor bubbles, nor spurts, nor emits any sound, nor shows any lines on the surface but is tranquil like a gem.”

Another text Rasaratnasamuchchaya speaks of iron as one of the pure metals, and the three categories thereof:


(i) Mundam (wrought iron) is of three types – one is the mridu, that is glossy, will melt easily but is difficult to break; the second, kunthum, that does not melt easily; and the kadaram that will easily break under the hammer;
(ii) Tikshnam (cast iron steel) – of six types, ranging from the line-free and rough and breakable type to the sharp-edged type that is difficult to break.
(iii) Kantam is of five types – bhramaka (that can make iron move about), chumnbaka (that which ‘kisses’ iron), karshaka (that which attracts iron), dravaka (which melts iron easily), romakanta (which expels hair-like filaments upon breaking).


Other metals

Zinc mining and smelting were known in the fourteenth century, and soldering was a common practice. By the eighteenth century, steel manufacture was a regular industry, particularly in Mysore. Seringapatnam was famous for its steel wires for musical instruments, while iron utensils and furniture were hallmarks of the smiths of Birbhum in the state of Bengal and Munger in the state of Bihar.

Pot furnace, Lothal.


Antimonial Bronze


The introduction of antimony in addition to the tin and copper produces a harder bronze, better able to hold a cutting edge and less likely to be bent in use.

Antimony sulphide (Sb2S3) in the form of powder was used in the Orient as a cosmetic to darken and beautify their eyebrows. An alloy of lead, tin, antimony, and a little copper was the metal of choice for casting movable type for printing from the time of Gutenberg until modern printing techniques superseded "hot metal" a few years ago. The alloys of antimony include britannia metal, type metal, Babbitt metal, and sometimes pewter; these alloys expand on cooling, thereby retaining fine details of a mold. Alloys and compounds of antimony are used in bearings, storage batteries, safety matches, and as a red pigment in paint.


Lupus metallorum = The grey wolf or stibnite, used to purify gold, as the sulphur in the antimony sulphide bonds to the metals alloyed with the gold, and these form a slag which can be removed. The gold remains dissolved in the metallic antimony which can be boiled off to leave the purified gold. "kohl, antimony paste" [ultimately perhaps   < akk. Guhlu, ‘alcohol’]


These samples of stibnite are on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The size of the left sample is about 20-30 cm high. Stibnite is antimony sulfide, Sb2S3.

Antimony is a brittle metal, silvery gray in color. It has the property of expanding upon freezing, and its main application has been as a constituent of type metal (82% lead, 15% antimony, 3% tin). The expansion upon solidifying gives sharp reproduction of type characters in the molds.

Stibium or antimony sulphide was roasted in an iron pot to form antimony. Initial uses were as an alloy for lead as it increased hardness. Stibnite is the most common ore. It was commonly roasted to form the oxide and reduced by carbon.

Zinc. A Chinese text from 1637 stated the method of production was to heat a mixture of calamine (zinc oxide) and charcoal in an earthenware pot . The zinc was recovered as an incrustation on the inside of the pot. In 1781 zinc was added to liquid copper to make brass. This method of brass manufacture soon became dominant.

Excavation of Zinc Distillation Furnaces at Zawar, Abstracts Ð 1984, Symposium on Archaeometry, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C., 1984 (V.H. Sonawane, K.T.M. Hegde and P.T. Craddock).


The reduction of ZnO by charcoal requires a temperature of 1000 °C or more and, because the metal is a vapour at that temperature and is liable to reoxidation, its collection requires some form of condenser and the exclusion of air. This was apparently first achieved in India in the thirteenth century. The art then passed to China where zinc coins were used in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Marco Polo described the manufacture of zinc oxide in Persia and how the Persians prepared tutia (a solution of zinc vitriol) for healing sore eyes (cf. the Georgian name for the metal). The presence of zinc in a Lothal arteact (2200-1500 B.C.) (No. 4189) assayed: 70.7 percent copper; 6.04 zinc; 0.9 Fe, 6.04 acid-soluble component (probably carbonate, a product of atmospheric corrosion). The zinc and other components could have come from the Ahar-Zawar area, Rajasthan. The next dated brass artefacts are: from the Gordian tomb in Phrygia of the eigth and seventury B.C. and Etruscan bronze of the fifth century B.C. containing 11 percent zinc.


References to Zinc and brass are found in the lost text Philippica or Theopompus (4th century BC), quoted in Strabo’s Geography (XIII, 56): "There is a stone near Andreida (north west Anatolia) which yields Iron when burnt. After being treated in a furnace with a certain earth it yields droplets of false silver. This added to copper, forms the so-called mixture, which some call oreichalkos." This pertains probably to the process of downward distillation of zinc ("droplets of false silver") and its subsequent mixing with Copper to make brass oreichalkos (arakuta in Kautilya’s Arthasastra) described in detail in the post-Christian era Sanskrit texts. The first slab zinc or spelter was imported from the East by the East-India companies around 1600, late when compared with Iron, Copper or Lead. In 1597, the German Andreas Libavius (1545-1616) received from a friend a "peculiar kind of tin" which was prepared in India. He called it Indian or Malabar lead. He was uncertain what it was, but from his account it is quite clear that that metal was Zinc. The metal did not even have a universally accepted name before the eighteenth century.


tutenag or tutanego, derived from the Persian tutiya, calamine [ZnCO3], which became the English tutty, zinc oxide. The Person word tutiya is derived from a word that means smoke. It refers to the fact that zinc oxide is evolved as white smoke when zinc ores are roasted with charcoal.

spelter (referring indiscriminately to Zinc and Bismuth), likely from the similar coloured lead-tin alloy, pewter, or the Dutch equivalent, spiauter or Indian tin. The British chemist Robert Boyle latinised this in 1690 to speltrum from which originates spelter, the commercial term for zinc.


The term zink was first used by by Paracelsus (c. 1526) in analogy of the form of its crystals after smelting. The word was subsequently used for both the metal and its ores.

The word zink is derived from the High German zink of zinke = sharp point (from Old High German zint "a point, jag," from Proto-Germanic *tindja "tine"), the shape in which the metal deposits in the melting furnace. Some suppose a relation with Zinn, the German word for Tin. Georgian თუთია [t'ut'ia]: After the Persian tutia, a solution of zinc vitriol.

Natron is potassium nitrate or saltpetre or barud. In Al-Madkhal al-ta`limi (Instructive Introduction) and in Kitab al-Asrar (The Book of Secrets), Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Zakariyya al-Razi (Rhazes) (d. 925 AD) mentions that Goldsmiths’ Borax is white and is similar to al-sabkha (al-shiha) [31]which is found at the feet of walls.[32] The same description appears in the Karshuni manuscript (written in Arabic with Syriac script), which belongs to the period ninth to eleventh century according to Berthelot and Duval[33]. Duval translated al-shiha which is found at the feet of walls as saltpeter. [34]   Karshuni manuscript that use the word barud. Here are two: “ Item 174 – For a violent fusion – two parts pure alum; 2 burnt copper, two barud [100]; one black [vitriol][101]; two tutiya [102]; one honey; let the work be done in an enamelled glass ware (zujaja khazafiyya), [one adds] raisins and one [olive] oil; and begin work.[31] This word occurred as al-sabkha and as al-shiha in the various texts. [32] Al-Razi, Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Zakariyya  b. Yahya, Kitab al-Asrar wa Sirr al Asrar, ed. Muhammad Taqi Danishpazhuh, Tehran, 1343(1964), p. 6 [33] Berthelot, M.and R. Duval, La Chimie au Moyen Age, vol. II, Paris, 1893.  p. XII. The Karshuni MS was published in Syriac script, with a translation into French by Duval. The Karshuni Arabic text was converted into Arabic script in Aleppo by the Rev. Father Bar§um on the request of the author of the present paper. The Arabic text in Arabic script is still in MS form.   [34] Berthelot and Duval, 1893, p. 145 [100] The word barud came in the Arabic text, but Duval translated barud into natron, [Berthelot and Duval, op. cit.,p. 187], which means sodium carbonate in modern European languages. This is a gross error with no explanation. [101] The word vitriol was added in Duval’s translation, p. 187. Words between square brackets are added by Duval to the French translation. [102] translated as antimony by Duval. [103] Translated as soot (suie) by Duval.


"In the ancient Near East… when working gold by streaming, nodules of cassiterite (or tin-stone SnO2) were found. This cassiterite was reduced by workers already proficient in the production of gold, silver and lead. The metal obtained was held to be a kind of lead. [In Sanskrit, the term for lead is: na_ga. In Akkadian, the term for tin is: anakku). Lead and antimony were already used to increase the ease with which copper could be cast, but neither of them improved in its other qualities, notably the tensile strength. From trials with the new kind of ‘lead’, it would be learnt that this mixture was now improved in tensile strength as well as in ease of casting. Nor was it necessary to produce this new metal first; unrefined copper had only to be smelted with charcoal and stream-tin to produce a new kind of ‘copper’ (ayas in Rigveda), namely bronze, with superior qualities for tools and weapons. At the same time, certain naturally mixed ores were also worked, and were found to give the better kind of ‘copper’ directly. We have no proof that the tin compound of these mixed ores was ever isolated or recognized. Furthermore, at this early stage the tin content of the bronze could not be adequately controlled, and therefore varied between fairly wide limits." (Adapted from: R.J.Forbes, 1954, Extracting, smelting and alloying, in: Charles Singer, E.J.Holmyard and AR Hall (eds.), 1954, A History of Technology, Oxford, Clarendon Press).

During the second millennium it is clear that an amalgamation process using molten lead was used to separate the metal from crushed electrum quartz. Later, Stibium (antimony sulfide) was also used in the cementation process.


Arsenical Bronze

Like antimony, arsenic added to the tin and copper (up to as much as 3% of the whole) produces a harder final product. Arsenic fairly routinely occurs as an impurity in early bronze anyway, and small amounts of it were probably not intentional or particularly noticeable in the final product. By the time the proportion of arsenic in bronze reaches two or three percent, however, the effects are quite noticeable and presumably intentional. It is to these products that the term "arsenical bronze" is usually applied.


Lead Bronze

Mixing lead into the copper-tin alloy produces "lead bronze," which may contain as much as 10% lead. The lead in the alloy does not become part of its crystalline structure, increasing the fluidity of compound when it is in its molten state. This facilitates casting, particularly the casting of finely detailed artistic objects. However lead bronze is softer than normal bronze, and therefore less able to hold a cutting edge, making it less appropriate for many types of tools.


Increasing the amount of tin in the alloy much about 10% produces greater brittleness, and tools made that way easily break. However alloys with more tin —potin (up to 20% tin) and speculum (more than 30% tin)— were used for early coins in some parts of Europe, where bittleness was not a significant problem.


The term "Bronze Age" refers to those periods around the world in which bronze was in general use. The specific dates of course vary from region to region, and vary also with the rigidity with which one defines "general use." The Bronze Age in any given place is considered to have come to an end when the generalization of iron brought on the beginning of the Iron Age, an equally problematic term.



Brass is an alloy of copper with zinc, and is usually made up of anywhere from ten to forty percent zinc. Small amounts of other ores produce special-purpose brass. (Tin and aluminum increase resistance to corrosion, for example.) Zinc ore (called calamine) is difficult to mix with the copper ore, however, and brass appears later in the archaeological record as well as being far less common than bronze.


“The earliest firm evidence for the production of metallic zinc is from India. Of the metals used in antiquity zinc is one of the most difficult to smelt since zinc volatalises at about the same temperature of around 1000oC that is needed to smelt zinc ore. As a result it would form as a vapour in the furnace which would immediately get reoxidised and hence lost. Hence metallic zinc is seldom reported in antiquity. However in India there is unique evidence for the extensive and semi-industrial production of metallic zinc at the Zawar area of Rajasthan. An ingenious method was devised of downward distillation of the zinc vapour formed after smelting zinc ore using specifically designed retorts with condensers and furnaces, so that the smelted zinc vapour could be drastically cooled down to get a melt that could solidify to zinc metal. The Rasaratnakara, a text ascribed to the great Indian scientist Nagarjuna, of the early Christian era describes this method of production of zinc.”



Sarasvati metaphors of wealth Part 3

November 24, 2005

Part 3. S’rivatsa


Jain votive tablet from Mathurå. From Czuma 1985, catalogue number 3. (Czuma, Stanislaw J., 1985, Kushan Sculpture: Images from Early India Cleveland Museum of Art. Yaksha, yakshini carry the entire composition. Four fish-tails encircle the jina. Out of the fish-tails emerge three-petalled padma. The tails are bound by a band with a petalled-circle pendant. Four s’rivatsa surround the jina in the centre. Four glyphs adorn the curves of the fish-tails: svastika, tied-fish, a pair of fish, triangle-shaped furnace.

3.1 Explaining the ‘tied’ fish on s’rivatsa metaphor of Sanchi stupa torana

The breath-taking splendour of the torana evokes many memories of bharatiya tradition and civilizational continuum with extraordinarily unique and abiding metaphors. One metaphor is s’rivatsa or macchuddaana jhasa and the second metaphor is makara.

In Khuddaka Nikaya, there is a Macchuddaana Jataka. The Jataka narrates how the bodhisatva threw the remains of food into the river for the fish, dedicating the merit of sharing annam for the river-spirit. (Jataka 288.


3.2 Jhasa in the bharatiya grand narrative of creation and of manu, the first human


Thus in Macchuddaana Jataka of Khuddaka Nikaya, merit is dedicated to the jhasa, the fish as river-spirit. The word jhasa occurs in S’atapatha Brahmana. The narrative in brief is as follows: As Manu was washing his hands with water, a fish came into his hands and offered to save him from a flood which would wash away all the creatures. The fish also asked Manu to care for the fish in a pot and when it grew larger in size, to care for it in a trench and when the fish outgrew the trench, to care for it in the ocean. At this stage, the jhasa would be beyond destruction. The narrative continues to note that the fish grew steadily into a jhasa, which is the largest size of the tiny fish as it grew.  The fish predicted that the flood would come in a particular year when Manu will build a ship, go to the fish and when the flood had risen, Manu would enter the ship. Events happened as predicted, the fish swam up to Manu. Manu fastened the rope of the ship to the horn of the fish. Manu sailed with the jhasa to the northern mountain. The fish noted that Manu had been saved and asked Manu to fasten the ship to a tree, also warned that the water should not be allowed to cut Manu off when Manu is on the mountain. The jhasa added that when the water subsided, Manu should keep following down the water’s flow. So it is that the mountain slope is called Manu’s descent. The flood had swept away all creatures excepting Manu who remained.


The word suggested for the rope and for binding (which is an emphatic orthographic detail of the s’rivatsa glyph) is uddana (Skt.) The phrase macchuddana in Pali means ‘a batch of fish’.


This may be the phrase relatable to the tying up of the central fish to the tails of two other fishes, thus creating the s’rivatsa composite of jhasa-vra_tah, or schools of fish.

It is suggested that the central theme of ‘fish’ or jhasa, in s’rivatsa metaphor relates to wealth, prosperity, fame: jasa ‘fame’ (Pkt.); yas’as (Skt.)


The two fish tails tied into this central fish suggests the phrase: macchuddana which means ‘a batch of fish (for sale)’ in Pali (CDIAL 1987). It also means a group of suttas. The word ‘uddana’ is suggested because the central fish is tied together and is also enveloped by two tails of fishes.  uddana `act of binding or fastening together’ MBh.; Pas. udan `rope for fastening yoke to plough-beam’; maccha fish (Pkt.Pali); matsya ‘fish’ (RV) (CDIAL 1987). This could also have been interpreted as jhasa-vra_tah (schools of fish) which is the meaning read in S’rimadbhagavatam (12.10.5). This will be consistent with the interpretation that vrata, mleccha tradition of Sarasvati civilization continued into the historical periods in Bharatam, exemplified by Sanchi stupa torana and the glyphs recorded on the torana. It is possible that this jhasa-vra_ta might have yielded the synonym s’rivatsa connoting wealth since mahaavrata precedes the performance of the agnis.t.oma pointing to the continuum of vrata-yajna traditions. It is unclear if jhasa and vatsa are relatable phonemically (though bha- or ma- > va- and jha- or ja- > ya- transforms are well attested). cf.— n. ‘breast, chest’ (RV.)vakkha—, vaccha— n. ‘chest’ (Pkt.)(CDIAL 11188); vatsará— m. ‘5th or 6th year in a cycle of 5 or 6 years’ TS; Pa. Pk. vacchara (Pa.Pkt.)(CDIAL 11242)

What was the central fish of the Sanchi stupa torana called? Jhasa ‘fish’; rebus: jhasa ‘fame, splendour, prosperity, wealth’. yas’as is the name of various saman according to Arshabrahman.a which are: udaka, anna, dhana. Thus, yas’as is closely associated with dhana, prosperity, wealth and hence, splendour, fame, beauty.  In Pkt. Bhra_jai means ‘shines’; as in Skt. Bhra_jas ‘shine, spark’ (RV). Jasa, therefore, means: beauty, splendour fame, prosperity, wealth. (Skt. Yas’as ‘beauty, splendour, worth’; Pkt. ‘fame, success’; Si. adv./ yehen ‘well, prosperously’) 


It is suggested that the word ayas in Sarasvati civilization, might have been interpreted as ‘fish, metal, iron, gold’. And, hence, the suggestion that the fish glyph is a hieroglyph denoting metal.


It is suggested that an early word for fish in bharatiya languages: ayas. The word, jhasa, ‘fish’ used in S’atapatha Brahmana as a large fish, is realtable to ayo ‘fish’ in Austric: So. <i>Ayo</i> `fish’. Go. <i>ayu</i> `fish’. Hako ‘fish’ (Santali) This lexeme ayo ‘fish’ is relatable to jhasa ‘fish’ (Skt.) This ayas – jhasa link is justified; for example, Pk. ujjhasa— m. ‘effort’ is comparable to ya_sayati ‘to weary’; a_yas ‘to work hard’ (Skt.). Thus, ayas > jhasa (which may refer to the fish in the s’rivatsa glyph on top of Sanchi stupa torana) may be a chronological evolution. When ayo, ayas is correlated with jhasa (all denoting fish), the homonymous ayas, jhasa (yasa) might have connoted metal, wealth, prosperity.

ayas metal, iron (RV.); ayo_ (Pali); aya iron (Pali.Pkt.); ya id. (Si.)(CDIAL 590). yahun.u iron filings (Si.)(CDIAL 589). yakad.a iron (Si.); ayaska_n.d.a a quantity of iron, excellent iron (Pa_n..gan..) In Pali, jhasa means ‘fish’. jhaṣa — an alligator; Bhagavatam 3.19.35 jhaṣa-kula-ullańghana — by the jumping of different fish; Bhagavatam 5.24.10 jhaṣa — as an aquatic (such as the fish and tortoise); Bhagavatam 7.9.38 jhaṣa-rāja-kuṇḍala — of the two earrings, made in the shape of sharks; Bhagavatam 8.18.2 jhaṣa-vrātaḥ — schools of fish; Bhagavatam 12.10.5


jasa means: beauty, splendour fame, prosperity, wealth. (Skt. Yas’as ‘beauty, splendour, worth’; Pkt. ‘fame, success’; Si. adv./ yehen ‘well, prosperously’)  asec, tasec = wealth (Santali) jos = fame, to succeed, praise (Santali) ja~k, ja~k jomok = splendour (Santali) monjok = beautiful (Santali) [See also: 2422 ūrjas n. ‘vigour, strength’ RV. Pk. ujja— n. ‘strength, brightness’; Md. uda ‘swell of the sea’; ojas ‘strength, vigour, vitality’ (RV); Pa. ōjā— f. ‘nutritive element in food’; Pk. ōya— n., ōyā— f. ‘strength, fame, glory’, KharI. oja—, NiDoc. oya—, Si. oda ‘strength’.]


3.3 S’rivatsa as an auspicious symbol

Candraprabhu, eighth tirthankara of Jaina. Associated symbol: moon. The 7th, 9th, 10th and 11th tirthankara and their associated symbols are: Suparsv’a – svastika, Suvidhinathji – Crocodile, Shitalnathji – Srivatsa, Shregansnath – Rhinoceros.

Vidisha (Bhelsa) is a city which encapsulates a remarkable dharma-dhamma continuum in Bharatiya Itihaasa, through Vaishnava, Bauddha, Jaina traditions and could help unfold the meanings of many metaphors which could be traced to Sarasvati civilization of 4th millennium BCE. Many merchants of Vidisha had supported the monuments at Sanchi. Jivantaswamin is associated with the place as also ‘parvar’ Jaina community of merchants of Vidisha.  Figure. 24 jinas, Ginjee, Tamilnadu


The metaphors relate to such glyphs as s’rivatsa and makara which are rendered in exquisite detail on many media by ancient artisans.


Masked as Enki, the half-fish and half-priest; from a relief of Assurnasirpal II (883–859 BC) from Calah. Gypsum. Height ca. 2.5 m. After Jeremias 1929: 353, fig. 183; cf. Asko Parpola, 1984, Deciphering the Indus Script, Cambridge Univ. Press, Fig. 10.19, p. 190).’Mesopotamian water-god Enki — distinguished by the fish emblem — is the principal ‘god of creation (d nu-dim-mud = s’a nab -ni-ti)…The Sumerian word apkallu (or abgal) meaning ‘wise man, expert’, and used as the title of a priest, exorcist or diviner, is an epithet of Enki. It refers to mythological sages, too, especially the seven antediluvian sages: the cuneiform texts speak of ‘an oral tradition of the [seven] ancient sages from before the flood’, and ‘the seven sages of the apsu, the sacred pura_du-fish, who like their lord, Ea, have been endowed with sublime wisdom.’ The servants of Enki are represented in the art as half-fish, half-man’ (ibid., p. 190). Since this relief is dated to between 883 to 859 BCE, it is likely that the fish myth was transferred from Bha_rata [S’Br. 1.8.1 which refers to Manu as the survivor of a flood, saved by a great fish (matsya, jhas.a)].  


3.4 Evolution of the s’rivatsa metaphor


This stylized glyph is often referred to as nandyaavarta, s’rivatsa, triratna. The glyph is an evolution from a number of glyptic components ligatured together to convey a message. The center-piece is the full fish (stylized like a vajra) tied, entwined, with a knotting thread tying up an S and inverse S on either side of the fish tail; out of the ends of the two S glyphs emerge two lotus stems. What surrounds (a_varta) this composition are two upraised tails of a pair of fish emanating from the centre-piece fish. The entire composition is placed on top of a dharma cakra in the middle of which is shown a mahaapadma (great lotus). The evolution of the glyptic composition can be traced from the evidence of a number of sculptural or orthographic variants. Fish glyph is central to the composition. This is a glyph which is depicted on many Sarasvati hieroglyphs with a number of variants and ligatures. Sometimes, the fish glyph is duplicated and paired.


The ligature of eyes to this part of s’rivatsa is a phonetic determinant of the word for ‘fish’. The word for eye in Santali is: me~t. The homonym, rebus, is med. ‘iron’.  The two tails of fish are thus read rebus as: bed.a hako (ayo), that is, either end of a metal (ayas) hearth used for smelting iron (med.).


Plate 389 triratna with eyes placed on top of a circular disk flanked by two s’ankha. Reference: Hackin, 1954, fig.195, no catalog N°. 


The two outer prongs are tails of fishes.

Jain votive plaque. Ayagapata.Mathura UP, Kankali Tila. Kushana (2nd c. CE). 65 x 57.5 cm. National Museum, New Delhi

Matsya yugala, triratna, srivatsa, makara, dharma cakra, s’ankha, purnaghat.a are remarkable metaphors.of stupa (sanchi and barhut) and also Bergram ivory/bone carvings. Some of these glyphs also appear on the as.t.amangala (eight auspicious representations or metaphors) haara worn by yakshi [other glyphs added include svastika, dhvaja or pennant, darpana (mirror)]


Triratna ‘three gems’ is referred to as sampo or sambo ‘three jewels’ in Japanese.


Triratana (also tiratna or ratna-traya in Pali) Buddhist glyph depicted on a  footprint of the Buddha which shows both triratna and the dharma cakra. 1st century CE, Gandhara.

 Buddhas First Sermon at Sarnath, Kushan Period, ca. …

Plate 391 Reference: Hackin 1954, p.244, fig.196 The srivatsa is an auspicious symbol which appears as a mark or dot of chest hair of Visnu, as well as one of the Jain Tirthankaras. It apparently originated in the Indus Valley culture and is thought to symbolize the “source of the natural world” (Liebert 1986:280).

The srivatsa emblem can take a number of shapes. In the Begram plaque described in the previous section, where the symbol is presented atop a triratna, the upper part of the symbol takes the form of a inverted triratna with the middle prong pointed but the outer prongs curled inward (Plate 391). The lower part of the emblem consists of a horizontal band with curled-in endings. In a more vegetal style, the srivatsa appears as a honeysuckle motif rising out of a semi-circle or cakra, with the same basic outline: an upright center and four curled-in branches on the side. This latter type occurs in many Begram plaques, either in multiple form (Plate 409) or individually.

Female figure, holding up a triratna(?) From Hadda, Afghanistan stucco H: ca. 9" Kabul Museum, Kabul

Footprint of the Buddha, Miho museum. Depicts triratna and dharma cakra. Footprint of Buddha (Gandhara / Swat Area, Pakistan)
2nd – 3rd centuries A.D., H-75.5 D-17 W-48.5 cm .

Detail of the footprint of the Buddha. Archaeological museum. Pakistan. Depict s’rivatsa or triratna on the toe and four alternating svastika glyphs on the four fingers of the foot. On this sculpture, footprints of both feet of the Buddha are shown and the triratna or s’rivatsa glyph adorns not only the heel but every finger and toe.


The oldest extant bussokuseki  仏足石. Literally "Buddha’s foot(print) stone." in Japan is dated 753 AD and preserved at Yakushiji Temple 薬師寺 in Nara, said to be a reproduction in stone of a tracing originating from China and which in turn reproduced a model that had been brought from India. Next to it stands a slab inscribed with a 21-verse poem of the Buddha’s footprint stone (BUSSOKUSEKI-NO-UTA 仏足石の歌)…


3.5 Auspicious symbols on footprints of the Buddha


Source: Miho Museum, Japan.


As the historical Buddha began to be seen as a superhuman one, the idea developed that he had certain physical attributes different from those of ordinary humans. Eventually thirty-two major signs (lakshanas) and eighty minor characteristics (vyanjanas) were described as distinguishing the physical form of the Buddha, though different texts (sutras) vary in the nature of these signs. Such signs, for example, include his soles being flat and marked with auspicious symbols.During the earliest period of Buddhist art, when the Buddha was not represented anthropomorphically, the Buddha’s footprint was one of the symbols which were used in narrative reliefs depicting the Buddha’s life scenes to indicate his personal presence. In the Gandharan region, where the Buddha image in human form was first created, there are indications that the Buddha’s footprint was worshipped in the same manner as an iconic figure. A Buddha’s footprint at the Archaeological Museum, Swat, in Pakistan, is thought to be the one mentioned in the travel records of the Chinese monks Faxien and Xuanzang, who made their pilgrimages in the fifth and the seventh centuries respectively, and worshipped a Buddha’s footprint at the northern Swat.The present example is a Buddha’s footprint carved on a rectangular slab, the border of which is decorated with a band of meandering vines or cords with four-petaled flowers between them. A triratna or three-jewel symbol is on the pad of the big toe, and the other four toe-tips are marked by a swastika. The triratna mark is a felicitous symbol in which a three-pronged, w-shaped element surmounts a circular flower motif; it symbolizes the three jewels of Buddhism — the Buddha, the Buddhist Law (dharma), and the community of practitioners (sangha). The swastika (svastika in Sanskrit) means "the auspicious". The hooks of the swastikas here do not all face in the same direction, and this variation in the motif is a fascinating aspect of this work. In the center of the sole is a wheel edged with a band of four-petaled flowers. The wheel (dharma-chakra) is a symbol of the Buddha’s teachings, or the Buddhist Law, as a perfect circle lacks nothing. Furthermore, the Buddha’s teachings penetrate the hearts of the faithful as the wheel turns, and the act of the Buddha preaching a sermon is called "the turning of the wheel." This wheel motif corresponds to the thousand-spoked wheel said to be one of the thirty-two auspicious physical signs of the Buddha and to appear on the soles of his feet and the palms of his hands. There is also a three-jewel symbol on the heel.When placed flat, the Buddha’s footprint is positioned with the toes direct towards the worshippers, as if the Buddha is facing them, and when it is displayed on walls, their toes point downward. The stone of this example is a greenish schist, which includes a great quantity of mica flakes, which sparkle in the light. This kind of stone was frequently used in the region extending from the northern part of Gandhara to Swat.


The presence of the Buddha is indicated with his footprints as well as the bodhi tree, an umbrella, a throne, and the dharmachakra or wheel of the Law in the reliefs depicting the Budda’s life scenes on the railing from Bharhut (the begining of the first century B.C.) and on the gateways of the Great Stupa at Sanchi (the begining of the first century A.D.); See Koezuka 1979, fig. 68, 72 (Bharhut), 26 (Sanchi). <end quote for Miho Museum>


Footprints at Gokurakuji TempleMade in Heisei Year One (December 1989)
 Photo courtesy

Triratna (sometimes also referred to nandipaada, ‘bull’s hoof’) is a device  on Kuninda coins (1st century BCE northern Punjab), surmounts depictions of stupas; the device occurs on Gondophares (Indo-Parthian) coins and  coins of some Kushana kings such as Vima Kadphises.

Coin. Kujula Kadphises (circa 30 – 80 AD)
AE Pentachalkon Senior ISCH B11 type; Mitchiner ACW 2887 – 2888v. 22 mm.
9.67 gm. Die position=10h Magnetic.
Obverse: Humped bull walking right; Nandipada symbol above. Kharosthi Pu before bull.

Coin. Vima Kadphises (circa 100 – 127/8 AD)AE Tetradrachm Gobl Kushan 760
29 x 27 mm. (3 mm. thick)16.90 gm.
Die position=12h Reverse: Shiva standing facing, holding trident; and the bull, right (Cribb series IIIa/C3); Nandipada symbol in left field.

The sheath of a warrior’s broadsword (closeup) is decorated with a nandipada. Bharhut, c. 100 BC  Indian Museum, Calcutta

YakshaSatavahana, Pitalkhora, Maharashtra at National Museum, Delhi. c. 1st cent. BCE.  Wears a five-stranded yajnopavitam, bracelets on wrists and shoulders, a necklace and two headbands of rudraksha beads and carries a basket of (perhaps, artisan tools) on his head. A yaksha is a dwarf.  [Deshpande,, MN, 1959, The rock cut cave of Pitalkhora in Deccan, Ancient India, No. 15, New Delhi, pp. 66-93]. Madhuri Sharma and DP Sharma, 1998, Newly discovered anthropomorphic figures from Nurpur, UP, in: Vibha Tripathi, ed., Archaeometallurgy in India, Delhi, Sharada Publishing House, pp. 286-291]. 

Detail of bead necklace worn by the yaksha shows a central bead flanked by two s’rivatsa glyphs hanging upside down (circle topped by two fish tails perhaps similar to the detail shown of a pair of s’rivatsa crowning the top panel of Sanchi stupa gate torana).

Tamtas also called tamotas (equivalent of Thathera-s of the plains) belonged to the general ja_ti of Dom (Nevill 1904: 105). In the Punjab, chhatera is an engraver as distinct from a thathera who makes ornamental vessels (Kipling 1886: 6); the brass founder was called the bhartya. [Chakrabarti and Lahiri, 1996, p. 156]. In Tamil, they were and in Telugu, kam.sala (Holder 1894-95: 81).

Sarasvati metaphors of wealth Part 2

November 24, 2005

Part 2. Metallurgy and trade routes


Schick and Toth note that copper and lead may have been used as early as eight thousand years ago, when: "…independently prehistoric peoples in such places as Thailand, the Balkans, and the Near East learned that certain types of copper-rich rocks could be heated at high temperatures with charcoal to melt out or smelt their metal contents. Temperatures of eight hundred degrees centigrade (similar to that used in firing high-temperature pottery) was necessary … this could be reached or surpassed with the addition of blow-pipes into an earthen smelting oven to enrich it with oxygen…"Kathy D.Schick & Nicholas Toth, Making Silent Stones Speak, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1993  htp://

Trade routes between Mediterranean and China through Meluhha in the Kushana period indicated on the map span the continent from the Balkans to Thailand. Homeric times refer to tin along with ivory coming from India (V. Ball, 1880, A geologist’s contribution to the History of Ancient India, in: Journal of Royal Geological Society of Ireland, Vol. 5, Part 3, 1879-89, Edinburgh, pp. 215-63). Ca. 1015 B.C., King Solomon and King Hiram of Tyre sent ships sailing directly from the Arabian port to India, touching ‘Ophir’, Sophir or Sauvira in the Gulf of Khambat (near Lothal) and brought back gold, silver, ivory and peacocks.

These trade routes of the Kushana period are a continuum of the heritage of trade between Meluhha and Mesopotamian civilization. This heritage is perceived through the continuing metaphors of Kubera’s navanidhi, mostly related to minerals, metals and furnaces. Three of the nine nidhi were: makara (antimony) and kharva (iron).


2.1 Erythraen Sea and Meluhha


Euphrates River was a link in the maritime trade of the eastern Mediterranean with that of the Gulf and Meluhha beyond. The Sumerian ‘colonies’ on the northern bend of the Euphrates were the conduits to carry the culture of Uruk to Egypt and linked the head of the Gulf to the Egyptian Delta through the Syrian ports (Moorey, 1990). The famous bilingual inscription of Sargon of Akkad (ca. 2234-2279 BC) sets out in geographical order from south-east to north-west the trading posts: Meluhha, Magan, Dilmun, Mari, Yarmuti, and Ebla: that is, from the Indus to the Taurus — the Indus which was also linked with central Asia through Afghanistan. (Hirsch 1963: 37-8). 


Fifth century BC Greek historian, Herodotus referred to the body of water which linked Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and the Indian subcontinent as the Erythraen sea. This sea includes the Red sea, the Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and the Persian or Arabian Gulf.


Meluhha-Dilmun-Magan Interaction areas. After Fig. 2 in P.R.S. Moorey, 1994, Ancient Mesopotamian Materials and Industries, Oxford, Clarendon Press.


"The land of Melukkha shall bring carnelian, desirable and precious, sissoo-wood from Magan, excellent mangroves, on big-ships!" said a statement in the Sumerian myth, Enki and Ninkhursag (cf. lines 1-9, trans. B. Alster). "In the late Early Dynastic period (about 2500), Ur-Nanshe, king of the Sumerian city-state Lagash, "had ships of Dilmun transport timber from foreign lands" to his capital (modern Tell al-Hiba), just as a later governor of Lagash, named Gudea, did in the mid-twenty-first century. In the early twenty-fourth century, Lugalbanda and Urukagina, two kings of Lagash, imported copper from Dilmun and paid for it with wool, silver, fat, and various milk and cereal products… That these (round stamp) seals were used in economic transactions is proven by the discovery of two important tablets bearing their impressions. One of these tablets was found at Susa, and dates to the first half of the second millennium. It is a receipt for goods, including ten minas of copper (about eleven pounds or five kilograms). The second tablet, in the Yale Babylonian Collection, is dated to the tenth year of Gungunum of Larsa (modern Tell Senkereh), that is, around 1925, and records a consignment of goods (wool, wheat, and sesame) prior to a trading voyage that almost certainly had Dilmun as its goal. Dilmun seals characteristically depict two men drinking what could be beer through straws, or two or three prancing gazelles…a merchant named Ea-nasir, who is identified as one of the a_lik Tilmun, or "Dilmun traders"… Ea-nasir paid for Dilmun copper with the textiles and silver that he received from the great Nanna-Ningal temple complex at Ur…The Mari texts contain several references to Dilmunite caravans…Melukkha was a source of wood (including a black wood thought to have been ebony), gold, ivory, and carnelian…Melukkha was accessible by sea…Sargon of Akkad…boasts that ships from Dilmun, Magan and Melukkha docked at the quay of his capital Akkad…While points of contact with other regions are attested, they can hardly have accounted for the strength and individuality of civilization in the subcontinent…Unmistakably Harappan cubical weights of banded chert (based on a unit of 13.63 grams) are known from a number of sites located around the perimeter of the Arabian GUlf, including Susa, Qalat al-Bahrain, Shimal (Ras al-Khaimah), and Tell Abraq (Umm al-Qaiwain)…an inscribed Harappan shard has been found at Ras al Junayz… Harappan pottery has been found at several sites throughout Oman and the United Arab Emirates…A "Melukkhan village" in the territory of the ancient city-state of Lagash, attested in the thirty-fourth year of the reign of Shulgi (2060), may have been a settlement of Harappans, if the identification with the civilization of the Indus Valley is correct…But…there is little evidence of a Sumerian, Akkadian, or Babylonian presence in the Indus Valley… That the language of Melukkha was unintelligble to an Akkadian or Sumerian speaker is clearly shown by the fact that, on his cylinder seal, the Akkadian functionary Shu-ilishu is identified as a "Melukkhan translator"…the word "Melukkha" appears occasionally as a personal name in cuneiform texts of the Old Akkadian and Ur III periods. "(Potts, D., 1995, Distant Shores: Ancient Near Eastern Trade, in: Jack M. Sasson (ed.), Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, Vol. I, pp. 1451-1463).


Mleccha trade was first mentioned by Sargon of Akkad (Mesopotamia 2370 BCE) who stated that boats from Dilmun, Magan and Meluhha came to the quay of Akkad (Hirsch, H., 1963, Die Inschriften der Konige Von Agade, Afo, 20, pp. 37-38; Leemans, W.F., 1960, Foreign Trade in the Old Babylonian Period, p. 164; Oppenheim, A.L., 1954, The seafaring merchants of Ur, JAOS, 74, pp. 6-17). The Mesopotamian imports from Meluhha were: woods, copper (ayas), gold, silver, carnelina, cotton. Gudea sent expeditions in 2200 BCE to Makkan and Meluhha in search of hard wood. Seal impression with the cotton cloth from Umma (Scheil, V., 1925, Un Nouvea Sceau Hindou Pseudo-Sumerian, RA, 22/3, pp. 55-56) and cotton  cloth piece stuck to the base of a silver vase from Mohenjodaro. (Wheeler, R.E.M., 1965, Indus Civilization) are indicative evidence. Umma seal impression shows a Meluhha trader in Mesopotamia; there is no comparable evidence of a Mesopotamian trader in Meluhha. Babylonian and Greek names for cotton were: sind, sindon. This is an apparent reference to the cotton produced in the black cotton soils of Sind and Gujarat.


"Oman peninsula/Makkan lies half way between the two main civilization centres of the third millennium Middle East: Mesopotamia and the Indus valley… an increasing influence of Harappan civilization on Eastern Arabia during the last two centuries of the third millennium. This influence seems to strengthen during the early second millennium where proper Harappan objects are found all over the Oman peninsula: a cubic stone weight at Shimal, sherds of Harappan storage jars on several sites including Hili 8 (period III). Maysar and Ra’s Al-Junayz bears a Harappan inscription and Tosi (forth.) has emphasized the importance of this discovery for the knowledge of Harappan control over the Oman Sea." [Serge Cleuziou, Dilmun and Makkan during the third and early second millennia BC, 143-155 in: Shaikha Haya Ali Al Khalifa and Michael Rice (eds.) Bahrain through the ages: the archaeology, London, KPI, 1986.]


2.2 Dilmun, Makkan, Meluhha


"Around 2500 BC, Dilmun is first referred to as a supplier of wood, by Urnanshe, King of Lagash. His successors, Lugalanda and Uri’inimgina (before 2350 BC) dispensed various textiles, resins, oil and silver out of the state storehouses to merchants of Lagash. The merchants were to trade the goods in Dilmun for copper and other wares, such as onions, linen, resin and bronze ‘marine spoons’… During the succeeding Old Akkadian Period (2334-2193 BC) the Mesopotamians were no longer the only traders to visit Dilmun. The seas were open to all contries and seafaring merchants from the distant lands of Dilmun, Meluhha and Makkan tied up at Akkad’s quay, during Sargon’s reign (2334-2279 BC). Copper was shipped directly from Makkan; people from Meluhha are mentioned in written sources as interpreters and seamen. During the reign of Gudea of Lagash, copper, diorite and wood were delivered from Makkan and Meluhha delivered rare woods (such as Sissoo wood), gold, tin, lapis lazuli and carnelian to Lagash. Naramsin warred against Makkan; Mesopotamia strove for predominance in the area…


“Ships from Makkan did not sail to the north. It appears that one or more trading centers in Makkan were visited during the voyages where Makkan wares– chiefly copper– and luxury items from Meluhha were bartered. Therefore it appears that many wares referred to in the written sources as ‘Makkan goods’, actually were materials originally brought from Meluhha. Through trans-shipment in Makkan, these goods were then later referred to as coming from Makkan; the same confusion occurs later with materials from Dilmun… Both the goods and the foreign merchants trading in Dilmun’s markets influenced forms of trade. The cuneiform characters had been taken over from the Sumerians, but the system of weights used in barter derived from the Indus Valley culture. (Michael Road, Weights on the Dilmun Standard, Iraq, vol. 44, 1982, 137-141). Spreading out from Dilmun, this system of weights became very popular and was used as far away as Ebla in Syria… Dilmun is mentioned for the last time in written records, during the reign of Samsu’liluma in the year 1744 BC, with the entry…’12 measures of purified copper from Alasia and Dilmun’. With this notice, the new supplier of copper is also mentioned; Alasia (Cyprus) would control the Mediterranean and Near Eastern market for copper for the next millennium. Alasia’s rise did not occur in isolation; obviously a lengthy series of crises led to the collapse of the existing system in the East. Unlike Dahlak, Dilmun did not cease to exist; Tukulti-Ninurta refers to himself as ‘King of the Upper and Lower Seas‘ and ruler over Dilmun and Meluhha. However, Meluhha and Makkan are no longer referred to in written records in the old sense.


"…More recent arcaheological researches in East Arabia have brought to light many finds which are related to the presence of Indus valley people. In the settlements of Hili 8 and Maysar-1, both of which have been investigated, Indus valley pottery is frequently found. Seals with Indus valley script and typical iconography indicate influences in Makkan down to the level of business organization. Marks identifying pottery in Makkan were taken from those used in the Indus valley, including the use of the signs on pottery used in the Indus valley. The discovery of a sea-port– which may be ascribed to the Harappans– at Ra’s al-Junayz on Oman’s east coast by an Italian expedition would seem to indicate that trade routes should be viewed in a more differentiated fashion than has been done upto now." [Sege Cleuziou, Preliminary report on the second and third excavation campaigns at Hili 8, Archaeology in the United Arab Emirates, vol. 2/3, 1978/79, 30ff.; Gerd Weisgerber, '...und Kupfer in Oman', Der Anschnitt, vol. 32, 1980, 62-110; Gerd Weisgerber, Makkan and Meluhha- 3rd millennium copper production in Oman and evidence of contact with the Indus valley, Paper read in Cambridge 1981 and to appear in South Asia Archaeology 1981; Tosi, M. 1982. A possible Harappan Seaport in Eastern Arabia: Ra's Al Junayz in the Sultanate of Oman, paper read at the 1st International Conference on Pakistan Archaeology, Peshawar]." Gerd Weisgerber, Dilmun–a trading entrepot; evidence from historical and archaeological sources, 135-142 in: Shaikha Haya Ali Al Khalifa and Michael Rice (eds.) Bahrain through the ages: the archaeology, London, KPI, 1986. [Simo Parpola/Asko Parpola/Robert H. Brunswig, The Meluhha village. evidence of acculturation of Harappan traders in the later third millennium Mesopotamia?, Journal of the Economic and Political History of the Orient, vol. 20, 1977, 129-165. 'If the tablets and their sealed envelopes had not been found, in fact, we might never have suspected the existence of a merchant colony.' (T. Ozguc, An Assyrian trading outpost, Scientific American, 1962, 97 ff.);

Ras-al-Junayz. Copper seal. (The port has a green-back turtle reserve). Turtle or tortoise shells were an item of trade from Meluhha, according to Mesopotamian records. “Mats, sarcophagi, coffins and jars, used for funeral practices, were often covered and sealed with bitumen. Reed and wood boats were also caulked with bitumen. Abundant lumps of bituminous mixtures used for that particular purpose have been found in storage rooms of houses at Ra's al-Junayz in Oman. Bitumen was also a widespread adhesive in antiquity and served to repair broken ceramics, fix eyes and horns on statues (e.g. at Tell al-Ubaid around 2500 BC). Beautiful decorations with stones, shells, mother of pearl, on palm trees, cups, ostrich eggs, musical instruments (e.g. the Queen's lyre) and other items, such as rings, jewellery and games, have been excavated from the Royal tombs in Ur.” [Use and trade of bitumen in antiquity and prehistory: molecular archaeology reveals secrets of past civilizations by J. Connan],4,14;journal,86,116;linkingpublicationresults,1:102022,1


The model boat found at Ra’s Al junayz is exactly similar to the boat depicted on a Sarasvati tablet with hieroglyphs. (One side of this tablet depicts an alligator among other glyphs).


Reconstruction of model boat, 85 cm. long. Ra’s Al Junayz (spelt as Jinz in French): “Building materials The excavations of Rj-2 with Ra’ S Al-Jinz delivered still new material indices of this navigation, in the forms of fragments of an amalgam, composed of a bitumen base in which were included chopped plants and carbonate of calcium, undoubtedly of the calcined corals, as well as animal greases, probably of fish or shark… Besides this one finds in Ra’ S Al-Jinz another form of prefiguration: in the northern whole of houses were found bitumen fragments which carried the traces either of reeds but of wood boards assembled free in and out by cords, the technique of the "bent" boats which made very a long time the originality of the Arab navy of the Indian Ocean.”


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