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Chapter Summary

Some forty-five mammal species can be distinguished in South Asian rock and stone sculptures in a period of time spanning roughly the last four and a half thousand years. Only a few species that are sufficiently known to Indian peoples but about which Indian stone art is silent remain unexplained. This chapter describes these well-known animals and their role in society below, making an attempt to explain why these animals are missing in South Asian lithic art. Most typical of a sea cow are its roundish massive head and body, a fluked tail, low herbivorous molars and a trunk-like protruding upper lip. A few other missed wild animals are both large and remarkable, yet are amazingly enough entirely missing from stone sculpture. The total absence of the cheetah in stone carving is surprising, considering its important role from roughly the twelfth up to the early twentieth century in princely hunting.

Keywords: princely hunting; sea cow; South Asian lithic art; stone sculptures



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