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Elephas Maximus, the indian elephant

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Chapter Summary

The Indian or Asian elephant is the second largest land mammal on earth, and without doubt leaves an immense impression on those who meet it in the wild. Elephants are the symbols of worldly royal pomp and power, but also symbol of Buddha's last birth. Elephant are carriers of the rain god and his wife, and supporters of the eight wind directions and of temple gateways. Elephants are the tanks in battle formations, and noble and wise creatures in narratives. Ganesha, the god of wisdom and war, the remover of obstacles, has an elephant head. Elephants provide showers of blessing water and are fond of bathing themselves as well. All these roles and customs are captured in stone sculpture and in the majority of cases their depiction is realistic, sculpted in much detail.

Keywords: Elephas Maximus; Indian elephant; narrative reliefs; religious architecture; stone sculpture



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