hair's colour in sanskrit

Anand Venkt Raman A.Raman at
Thu May 8 03:47:14 UTC 1997

JAYABARATHI <jaybee at> writes:

>	a Vedic referance. In this referance, the Brahmins are 
>	said to possess yellow hair and whiskers.
>	In the same source , Indra was described as having stout
>	neck, very muscular body and yellow hair and whiskers and beard.

That is surprising since it seems that people with yellow hair were
held in low regard in the Indian subcontinent.  Pliny the Elder notes
in his Description of Taprobane (Sri Lanka):  

  They also informed us that the side of their island which lies
  opposite to India is 10,000 stadia in length, and runs south-east -
  that beyond the Hemodi mountains, they look towards the Seres, with
  whom they had become acquainted by commerce, also that the father of
  Rachia had often gone to their country, and that these Seres came to
  meet their visitors on their arrival.  These people, they said,
  exceeded the normal stature of mankind, and had yellow hair and blue
  eyes; the tones of their voices were harsh and uncouth, and they could
  not communicate their thoughts by language. -- Natural History: Book VI.

Is there not an injunction in Manu against marrying people with
reddish hair?  In South India, reddish hair is not considered
admirable.  The specific term used is "Sempattai" which is derogatary
and is said to be due to not grooming one's hair well by "daily oiling
and combing"!  The funny thing is that this applies also to people
whose hair has a natural reddish or brownish tinge.  I have also been
told by some people that after a ritual tonsure, a child's soft
reddish hair will become thick and black, and not to worry etc!


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