elves: Indic counterpart?

Peter M. Scharf Scharf at BROWN.EDU
Thu Jun 9 19:16:57 UTC 2005

Etymologically, elf derives from IE albho 'white' and is akin to 
Latin albus 'white' as in albino.  This hints to me that the ancient 
concept of elf was more at a ghost for which the Sanskrit term would 
be 'bhUta'.  But they hardly resemble Tolkeins elves.  As mentioned 
by MK, the vidyAdhara 'knowledge-bearers' of texts such as the 
brhatkathAschlokasangraha seem to share their preservation of 
knowledge and love of music however.  The menacing aspect of Yakzas 
and Gandharvas, however, should not exclude them from comparison to 
Tolkein's elves; the dwarves certainly considered them menacing.

Peter M. Scharf             (401) 863-2720 office
Department of Classics      (401) 863-2123 dept
Brown University
PO Box 1856                 (401) 863-7484 fax
Providence, RI 02912        Scharf at brown.edu

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