Parasol in India

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Nov 20 14:27:58 UTC 1999

Apart from "vEntu tozil ayarum"(puR. 285.7), vEntu can be analyzed in:
1) maNNuRu muracin2 vEntu tozil viTin2E (aiG. 443.5)
2) Entu kOTTu yAn2ai vEntu tozil viTTen2a (aiG. 498.3)
3) vEntu viTu vizu tozil oziya (aiG. 428.3)
4) vEntu viTu vizu tozil eyti (aiG. 466.1)
5) Entiya koLkaiyar cIRin2 iTaimurintu
   vEntan2um vEntu keTum (kuRaL)
vEntu appears to be a noun and possibly from the verb, vEy.

  uvavumati uruvin2 OGkal veNkuTai
  nilavukkaTal varaippin2 maNNakam nizaRRa (puR. 3.1-2)
(These lines describe the white parasol's covering aspect).

maNTu amar aTTa matan2 uTai nOn2 tAL
veL kuTai viLakkum viRal kezu vEntE! (puR. 212.1-2)

These lines describe the restraining aspects of the king
and the parasol. The chief dancer in the kulanAyakam
temple of the rulers was called "talaikkOli",
The "talaikkOl" is a decorative wand made out of the
stem of the vanquished rival's parasol and,
is the highest award given to the winner in the
bharata nAtyam competition by the king. This "talaikkOl"
award is vividly described in CilappatikAram and, 100s
of "talaikkOli"s, top dancers are attested in Pallava
and Chola epigraphy. Nallur Nataraja dancing on a squatting
dwarf sports this talaikkOl in one of his hands.

> From Peruntokai, some rare old poems culled from different
sources on the royal parasol:

   pakal eRippatu en2kolO? pAn2mati en2RaJci
   ikalaraNattu uLLavar ellAm - akanaliya
   viNtaJcam en2n2a virintakuTai nATkoLLak
   kaNTaJcic cumpuLittAr kaN.
(King's candra-like parasol spreads hot rays on his foes)

   mantaraG kAmpA maNivicum pOlaiyAt
   tiGka LataRkOr tilatamA - veGkaNu
   muRRunIr vaiya muzutu nizaRRumE
   koRRappOrk kiLLi kuTai.

   aRanIrmai tAGki yaLapparitAy vAn2ap
   puRanIrpOn2 muRRum potiyum - piRarovvA
   mUvEnta ruLLu mutalvEntan2 muttamizkkuk
   kOvEntan2 kaNTan2 kuTai.

On ViirapaNDyan's coronation (TenkAsi temple inscription):
   cENulavu veNTiGkaT celvan2en2at taNNen2Ru
   nINilamO rEzu nizaRRumE - pENivantu
   pUvEnta rEttum pukazvIra pANTiyan2aG
   kOvEntan2 koRRak kuTai

Turning from literature to art, probably the first parasol
on a king is in a 200 B.C Indo-Greek coin. "representaions of
Vishnu is the figure on a coin from Ai-Khanum issued by the
Indo-Greek king Agathocles in 200 B.C. which was excavated
by P. Bernard. The figure wears a skirt-like vertically
ribbed dress falling just below his knees, an uttariya attached
to his shoulders, large earrings, half-boots with curved
sole-ends and a helmet-shaped headdress adorned with two
floating ribbons, surmounted by a large transversal aigrette
which formsa kind of umbrella over the figure. The figure
holds a chakra in the left hand and a pear shaped object
in the right. This has been described as a vase (maNDala)
but it appears to be a conch. A sword hangs from a cross
belt. The legend in the Brahmi script reads as "rajane"
and agnthuklayesha(Agathuklayesha). The umbrella suggests
the vAjapeya ceremony celebrated at an emperor's assumption
of universal sovereignty (fig. 71)." (p. 84, Nanditha Krishna,
The art and iconography of Vishnu-Narayana, Bombay).
The eastern torana at Sanchi, Jaggayapeta Chakravarti panel
at Madras museum, the Amaravati limestone panel at the British
museum with Buddha's leaving the palace, Mahavira representaions
also have the royal parasol. There is a beautiful color painting
of Parvati standing under a parasol in the Pallavan
tAlagiriisavra temple at Panaimalai (D. Barrett, Indian painting).

Geeta Bharathan asked:
 >Was there a single type of parasol that was invented and spread from
 >a  single location, or were there different kinds? Were Indian
 >parasols made the same way as, say, Japanese parasols?

The standard opinion is that the parasol was invented in
China in 4th century AD (see Note 1). Given the fact that parasols are
an integral part of India from the Northwest to Southern
sangam texts from 2nd century BC at the very minimum and
linguistic analysis by Palaniappan pointing very much back in
time and that by 4th century Buddhism has established
itself well in Wei dynasty China, it is likely that Indian parasol
reached China.

Please help me with the name of the article/book(s) where
Jan Gonda discusses Indian kingship? Thanks.

N. Ganesan

Note 1: Great Inventions Through History, G. Messadi'e,
Chambers Compact Reference, 1991
(Les grandes inventions de l'humanitie)
p. 71 " Parasol, Anon., China, 4th century
The first parasols appeared in the 4th century in China under
the Wei dynasty. They were made of oiled paper stuck on to
flexible ribs and were used for protection from the rain as
much as from the sun. They were therefore designed on the
model of the umbrellas which had preceded them by about
four centuries."

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