1. Horse and 2. Dice in India

Yaroslav V. Vassilkov yavass at YAVASS.USR.PU.RU
Sat Mar 21 08:36:31 UTC 1998

>From yavass Sat Mar 21 11:22:50 MSK 1998
On March 20 (or 21) Edwin Bryant wrote:

<I think it is relevant to note that just as horses were central to the
<Vedic Indians they have always been central in Indian history, but *they
<have always been imported into the subcontinent* from the Epic, Mauryan,
<Mughal through to the British period. So the horse has always been highly
<prized despite not being indigenous to the subcontinent (although there is
<an indig species of onager native in the NW).

        and at the end of his contribution Edwin Bryant uses the same
supposed fact as a base for an important historical conclusion:

<...just as the horse has always been imported and
<central to Indic culture right throughout the historic period, it could
<likewise have similarly been imported and central in the proto-IA period
<(for the Indig. Aryan School, and earlier still in the PIE period for the
<Out-of-India school).

        But can we really say that *the horse has always been imported* while
since the Vedic period Sanskrit literature constantly mentions horse-breeding
in the North-West of the subcontinent? The first such mention one can probably
find in the Nadiistuti of the Rgveda (X.75.8) where the Sindhu river is called
*svazvaa, surathaa* and *vaajiniivatii* - *famous for its fine horses, good
chariots* and *rich in race-horses*. After that we can see that in many
sources different regions of the North-West (Sindhu-Sauvira, Gandhara, Kamboja)
are described as well-known centers of horse-breeding (see, e.g, Mbh. V.46.13;
VI.86-3-4; VII.137.3; XII.36.11).
        By the way, I think that the participants in the debate on the spread
of horses in India quite undeservedly ignored the archeological materials
of the *megalithic* culture which at some sites (e.g. on the territory of
historical Vidarbha) can be dated now as early as the beginning of the I
mill. BC. Here we can speak really in terms of MASS material, consisting of
bone remains and innumerable articles of metal harness. The megalithic
material makes quite possible its comparison with the relevant data from
"Scythian graves" (while some of the participants has asserted earlier
that the latter have no analogues in India).

    2. DICE.
        As the participants in this debate demonstrate vast knowledge of the
present state of archeological studies in India, it gave me idea to address
them a special question.
        Many years ago (in the early 1970-ies?) Professor B.B.Lal visited
Leningrad in the USSR (now St Petersburg in Russia) and read two lectures
(at the Institute of Archeology and the Institute of Oriental Studies) on
the progress of his studies of the Painted Grey Ware culture.
        I remember very well one of the slides that he demonstrated to the
audience. It was a picture of a gambling die: oblong and biconical, made
of terracotta. Since then I tried many times but failed to find any published
information bearing on the PGW dice.
        Can you give me a reference to any source containing a picture or
a good description of the dice typical of the PGW culture?
        Thanks in advance
                                Yaroslav Vassilkov
                                St Petersburg

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