Paired Horse and PIE breakup

Paul Kekai Manansala kekai at JPS.NET
Sat Nov 7 20:12:45 UTC 1998

N. Ganesan wrote:
>  I was really surprised to read P. K. Manansala's
> writing in Indology list earlier that
> "...,but I don't recall the horse as a particularly important
> symbol in the Greek, Roman, Persian or Celtic mythology
> I have seen. ..." All my readings indicate the
> opposite: Horse played a unique, important role in
> IE religion and culture. For eg., horses and Aryans
> go hand in hand in the Vedas.

Yes, but could you address the cultures I mention above. I agree that
horses are fairly important in the Vedas, and also in later Indian

My knowledge of European and Iranian mythology and ritual is limited to
a few university courses and some personal reading (like Dumezeil,
Campbell, _The Golden Bough_, etc.).

I don't recall the prominence of horses in these mythologies, although
they do exist. The horse played a great role in the ritual of Altaic and
certain Uralic peoples though.

> For the record, I don't believe in Computers just
> skipping language groups and reaching others.
> My cousins work for Microsoft and IBM in India.
> They tell me their gurus are American (some may
> be India born Americans). Just as Buddhism and Islam
> also did not hop over to other lands from
> the lands of their birth.

Yes, but it doesn't involve any significant migrations of the
originating culture (whichever that is) to the places now using
computers. Just as Marco Polo presumbaly brought technology regarding
gunpowder, the printing press, the mechanical clock and so on to the
West, ideas can be carried without the need for population movements.

Paul Kekai Manansala

> Regarding the Altaic culture, the similarities between Hsiung-nu and
> later Turko-Mongol culture with the culture ascribed to Scythians by
> Herodotus and others is well-known.  Here is a partial list:
> 1. The joint burial of humans with horses often oriented toward East.
> 2. Fully nomadic society on horseback.
> 3. Slitting the throat of the chief's wife and servants on tomb
> 4. Cutting one's enemy's skull at eyebrow level, inlaying with gold
>     and covering with leather to make a drinking cup.
> 5. Head-hunting.
> 6. Hanging scalps of victims from bridles.
> 7. Wide trousers strapped to the ankle.
> 8. Fur cap and cape.
> 9. Mourn dead by gashing face with knives so "blood flows with
>     tears."
> 10. Had flocks of sheep and herds of horses, camel and cattle.
> 11. Meat and milk diet.Rarely practiced regular agriculture.
> 12. Dressed in skins.
> 13. Wolf as totem guard and revival totem.
> 14. Used felt tents and brought women and children in wagons.
> 15. Practiced shamanism based on worship of Heaven and sacred
>       mountains.
> 16. Supreme leader summoned all tribes in the autumn for census of
>       humans and animals.
> 17. Used raiding and fleeing tactics.
> 18. Depended on mounted bowmen in battle.
> 19. Used same feigned retreat strategies.
> 20. Both were experts at firing bows to the rear while mounted.
> 21. Slept on furs.
> 22. Usually shaved head except small tuft on top.
> 23. Used similar small yet fierce pony.
> 24. Switched horses in battle.
> 25. Drank blood of horse during battle to prevent dehydration.
> 26. Usually no beard except tuft on chin.
> 27. Sheath of bow suspended from belt in front of left thigh.
> 28. Quiver attached to belt and suspended across back with arrows to
>       right.
> 29. Preferred mare's milk to other types of milk.
> 30. Similar burial in raised mounds.
> 31. Similar "plank and file" coffins
> 32. Similar bows
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