Indragopa (was Re: lac insect)

Stella Sandahl ssandahl at EAGLE.CA
Thu Apr 21 21:27:24 UTC 2005

Indeed, the indragopa cannot have been the cochineal. But the real South
American cochineal, Coccus Cacti, was introduced into India in the late 18th
century. See article in George Watt: The Commercial Products of India
(abridged version) p.347-349.
Stella Sandahl

on 21/04/05 13:26, Dominik Wujastyk at d.wujastyk at UCL.AC.UK wrote:

> Indragopa insect: Most of the Indic dictionaries say `cochineal' which
> can't be true because that's S. American.  I thought for a while it was
> this red/black wasp.  But again, probably not.  I now believe I've got
> good authorities for thinking that indragopa = indragopaa = lac =
> laaksaa = Kerria lacca (Kerr.).
> Dominik
> On Thu, 21 Apr 2005, Allen W Thrasher wrote:
>> While we're on this, does anyone know the scientific name of the the
>> indragopa, a bright red beetle, which I was under the impression was
>> bright red and about the size (I would estimate 3-4 mm long) of what in
>> the US we call a ladybug or ladybird? (The latter is also bright red,
>> but with black spots.)  Monier-Williams says it is the lac insect, but I
>> doubt that.  Among other things, as I recall in kavya it is mentioned
>> that the indragopa comes out in the monsoons and is found in the grass
>> or herbage, whereas the lac insect dwells on certain trees or shrubs,
>> and is not associated with any particular season.  A standard trope is
>> to compare indragopas to drops of blood, or the reverse.
>> I also thought I remembered that in Wasson's Soma book there was a
>> discussion of the indragopa and its association with soma in India and
>> of similar beetles and the fly agaric elsewhere.  But I had a quick look
>> at the book and saw no such thing in the text or index, just a
>> discussion of the associations of the plants with flies.
>> I will have to look at the Opie's book on nursery rhymes, sub "Ladybug,
>> ladybug, fly away home."  I am quite sure I read someplace that the
>> association of such small bright red beetles with divine beings (Our
>> Lady, Indra) is very widespread.
>> I once saw a lot of bright but very tiny bugs or other non hard-shelled
>> insects (not beetles) in Jahanara Park in Delhi during the monsoon, and
>> wondered if that could be the indragopa, but they were so small I
>> wondered how they could be compared to drops of blood in size.
>> Allen
>> Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
>> Senior Reference Librarian
>> Southern Asia Section
>> Asian Division
>> Library of Congress
>> Jefferson Building 150
>> 101 Independence Ave., S.E.
>> Washington, DC 20540-4810
>> tel. 202-707-3732
>> fax 202-707-1724
>> athr at
>> The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library of
>> Congress.

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