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Bandicota Indica, the bandicoot rat

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Chapter Summary

As far as stone sculptures are concerned, Ganesha's rat is a bandicoot, recognised by its large size, massive body, rounded or triangular muzzle and sometimes an indication of bristly hairs. Sculptures from southern Bangladesh and those from the desert zones of Rajasthan and Gujarat may represent respectively the Indian mole-rat and the short-tailed bandicoot instead of a bandicoot. Common as they may be, rats are rarely depicted in stone, other than Ganesha's mount. Exceptions figure as part of a more general animal scenery as for example in the case of the Story of Vessantara; the role of the rat attending Shiva Dakshinamurti from Tamil Nadu is unclear. An exception is formed by the Karni Mata temple at Deshnok, Rajasthan. This modern temple is profusely decorated with rat sculptures, which is explained by the special status that black rats enjoy in this particular temple.

Keywords: Ganesha's rat; Indian mole-rat; rat sculptures; short-tailed bandicoot



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