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Ovis Aries, the domestic sheep

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Chapter Summary

Sheep, wild as well as domestic, are medium-sized bovids, and are thus even-toed ruminants with horns in both sexes. The majority of sheep sculptures represent domestic sheep. Wild sheep seem to figure only in Indus Valley sculptures (c. 2,600-1,700 B.C.E.) and in narrative reliefs, such as those illustrating the Miracle of Sravasti from Greater Gandhara. Wild sheep are recognized in stone sculpture by their massive horns and a ruff or hairs below the throat. The ram of Agni is depicted in various ways in stone sculptures. Agni's ram may be depicted with a beard, typical of goats, possibly in a misplaced attempt to copy the small, triangular beard of Agni himself. Sheep sometimes figure in erotic scenes. Such may be the case with the sheep on Hariti pedestals. Hariti is the Buddhist protective goddess of children and the monastery.

Keywords: domestic sheep; erotic scenes; Indus Valley sculptures; narrative reliefs; Ovis Aries; stone sculptures



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