hamsa, goose and swan

John C. Huntington huntington.2 at OSU.EDU
Sun Feb 10 22:54:20 UTC 2002

Dear Friends,

Forgive me for entering into a private conversation but I think the
swan is a Central Asian Bird that was domesticated by Eastern
Europeans and others.  It was certainly a game bird in the Kurgans at
Pazyryk in the trans Altai.

If there was a species of swan in early Indic regions it would be
interesting to know

John C. Huntington

>It does not help me much in my search for the
>link between praa.na and the sun, but: Yes,
>etymologically hamsa is indeed ghansa (cf.
>Mayrhofer) whereas swan, the singing bird (?),
>has perhaps something to do with sv·nati and
>latin sonare (at least acc. to Duden
>Herkunfstwoerterbuch s.v. Schwan; unfortunately
>the online indo-european dictionary is still only
>starting up and I could not find a suitable lemma
>for swan/zwaan/Schwan at
>Please, Dominik, request Julia to enlighten us on
>the overlap between hamsa and swan.
>Best, Jan
>--- Dominik Wujastyk <ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK> wrote:
>>  On Fri, 8 Feb 2002, Frits Staal wrote:
>>  > I have not followed this discussion but only
>>  a detail re. #6: hamsa does
>>  > not mean swan but goose - obvious also for
>>  semantic reasons unlike swan
>>  > which is a typically European-Romantic
>>  (Wordsworth?) bird.
>>  Ahh, Frits.  According to received Indological
>>  opinion, you would be
>>  absolutely right, but Julia has been
>>  re-examining the identity of the
>>  hamsa, and would not agree with what you say, I
>>  think.  I'll leave it to
>>  her to state her view on this, if she wishes.
>>  She has gone into a lot of
>>  detail, and has sophisticated ornithological
>>  knowledge as well as the
>>  Indological background.  As far as I can
>>  gather, "swan" is correct *in
>>  some circumstances*.  But I must leave it to
>>  Julia to say any more.
>>  Best,
>>  Dominik
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