Dating the Veda: Using the Horse and Planets
witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Tue Jan 18 12:11:24 EST 2000
> Do languages of NW (including Gujarat, Sindh) reliably distinguish
>ass/donkey (Equus asinus) and the hemione (E heminous), subspecies Khur?
>[Sanskrit doen't seem to.]
Of course it does:
* horse = azva (Avest. aspa) (and many poetic names such as arvant, vaajin,
* ass/donkey = khara (Avest. xara), gardabha (cf. EJVS 1999), rAsabha (RV)
* hemione/wild ass/onager = parasvat- RV, AV++ (both in connection with
sex, as typical for the ass until today... study Indian abuse terms!
gardabha > Panj. ... gadhA etc, etc.); cf. also VadhS. gaura (below)
* A mule, offspring of donkey & horse, is azvatara ('more on the side of
the horse'): why this name if there was no difference between horse and
donkey as has been maintained in a recent email??
The hemione may also be mentioned in VadhB (Soma section) by gaura 'pale,
whitish', which fits the color of the wild ass/hemionus/onager quite well.
It occurs in a list of animals, always of lower quality, next to the 5
standard animals of the Veda: thus :
azva horse, gaura "?";
gauH cow, gavaya (wild buffalo, bos gavaeus),
avi sheep, uSTRa camel (!)
aja goat, zarabha (any horned wild animal)
The dictionaries, of course, take gaura as wild buffalo as well; -- in need
of detailed investigation...
Modern languages are quite another point. Some 3000 ++ years time
difference. e.g., most have substituted Skt. ghoTaka for azva... etc.
NW: asp already in Alexander's biographers);
a'sp (Kohistani), and similarly, in other Dardic languages (minus
Panjabi: This and other New Indo-Aryan languages have substituted
ghoRa etc (later Vedic, Skt. ghoTaka) for older azva: W/E. Panj. ghoRa
Avestan: xara; Skt. khara, gardabha
NW kur, korU (Nuristani), Dardic : khAr etc.; gadA, gada(Ro)
Panjabi: khar; gadhA
Sindhi: kharu, ?
Gujarati: khar, gaddho
parasvant-, apparently not retained in modern languages which have khor...
, probably from Skt. khara, but -o- would rather point to Skt. *khaura! ---
probbaly a mix (cross) of Skt. khara and gaura > gor- (as in Sindhi goro,
Panj. gorA 'whitish etc.').
(cf.also Late Ved. khora 'lame'??? -- as a term of abuse)
> (1) E. asinus is native to North Africa and neighboring parts of Asia;
> (2)All domestic donkeys seem to be E. asinus;
> (3) E. heminous is native to Iran and NW India ... but never
>seems to have been domesticated.
What about the hemione (onager) in Iran/Mesopotamia? It *was* used as
draught animal early on. But given up when the horse was introduced from
the north early in the 2nd mill. BCE.
>Note that any reference to wild asses in India must be to the Khur.
If hemionus is intended. Details/Summary in R. Meadow 1999 (The
Transition to Agriculture in the Old World. The Review of Archaeology
(Special Issue ed. by Ofer Bar-Yosef) 19, 1998, 12-21 with earlier
> Herodotus must be saying that Indians in Darius' army used
> hemiones (also) to draw chariots.
Indeed, Her. 7. 86 has: hippoi kai onoi agrioi 'horses and wild donkeys' as
draught animals -- a study of the Greek term is asked for ... Any
possessors of the Greek thesaurus CD ?? -- Strange for this period. The
Veda++ often talks of mule chariots...
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