Alfred Collins acollins at GCI.NET
Fri Feb 13 17:31:16 UTC 2004

I believe Carol Lin Bodin (sp?) was working on a Ph.D. dissertation on the makara at the University of Chicago about 10-15 years ago.
Al Collins

----- Original Message -----
From: John Huntington <huntington.2 at OSU.EDU>
Date: Friday, February 13, 2004 8:18 am
Subject: Re: graaha/nakra/makara

> The artistic evidence regarding the term Makara:
> As represented in art,  the makara is a complex composite creature
> with representations from as early as the Mauryan period at the ca.
> 250 B.C.E. Lomas Rishi cave through to the present day. It is clearly
> not a crocodile an any stage of its representations that I am
> familiar with. At Lomas Rishi the representation is quite elaphantine
> and is four legged but a comparison with one of the elephants in the
> same frieze clearly demonstrates it is not an elephant.
> In the Sanchi stupa two railing the makara is one of a series of
> "auspicious"  designs ( I am not at all certain if the term mangalam
> would be appropriate for them however). Makara occur several time in
> a variety of of configurations, again always as a composite of
> several creatures. Again it is fairly elephantine but this time with
> a fish tail in place of hind legs.
> From this point on the basic construct is pretty much set varying
> elements come and go lion-like teeth, wings, scales, and something
> auspicious comes out of its mouth, plants, animals, humans pearls
> water and so on.
> Between, India, Nepal, and Tibet, I have a great number of
> photographs of makara, dating from the Lomas Rishi example, cited
> above, down to modern executions.
> I would be happy to send attachments of the two above and more if it
> is desired, to anyone who would like to see them.
> In short, as configured in art, the makara is not a living natural
> creature but rather a mythic composite that is a fundamental source
> of water, life essence and well-being and prosperity.
> It compares to the dragon in China, the naga in India.
> John C. Huntington
> >
> --
> John C. Huntington, Professor
>    (Buddhist Art and Methodologies)
> Department of the History of Art
> 108 North Oval Mall
> The Ohio state University
> Columbus, OH 43210-1318 U.S.A.
> huntington.2 at
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