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Boselaphus Tragocamelus, the nilgai

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Chapter Summary

The nilgai, or blue bull, is a large, dark-coated antelope-like bovid with a shoulder height of 1.2-1.5 m. Nilgai are distinguished from true antelopes by, among others, a different kind of horns: they are keeled and smooth. They are social animals and live in herds. Nilgai seem not to play any particular role in religion. It seems, however, that they are considered equal to antelopes in regard to the game animals (mriga) in Buddhism. A nilgai plays a heroic role in narrative relief on a railing pillar from the stupa at Bharhut, Madhya Pradesh. The relief illustrates the Story of the Woodpecker, the Turtle and the Deer about three friends who lived together at a lake in a forest.

Keywords: Boselaphus Tragocamelus; narrative relief; nilgai; stone sculptures



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