Re: [INDOLOGY] gajagāminī and other elephant similes in early kāvya

Klaus Karttunen klaus.karttunen at
Wed Aug 14 12:45:31 UTC 2013

Dear Jim,
according to my notes, some early references about female gait resembling that of an elephant include Bhavabhūti MM 9, 27, Dhūrtaviṭasaṁvāda after 16, Pādatāḍitaka 88, Kumāradāsa Jānakīh. 1, 29, and Manu 3, 10. For male, princely gait already in the Rāmāyaṇa (e.g. 1, 47, 2 and 2, 38, 6). In 3, 44, 18f.  Sītā’s thigh is smooth as an elephant’s trunk.  


Klaus Karttunen
South Asian and Indoeuropean Studies
Asian and African Studies, Department of World Cultures
PL 59 (Unioninkatu 38 B)
00014 University of Helsinki, FINLAND
Tel +358-(0)9-191 22674
Fax +358-(0)9-191 22094
Klaus.Karttunen at

On Aug 14, 2013, at 3:21 PM, Jim Mallinson wrote:

> Dear All,
> A colleague not on the list has asked me to post the following:
> The comparison of a woman's walk to that of an elephant was celebrated in MF Husain's film 'Gajagamini'.  The expression is usually thought to come from Kalidasa but I've not found it in a cursory search of his work.  The earliest occurrences seem to be in the Mahabharata.  Any confirmation of texts using gajagamini and details of elephant similes in kavya would be welcome e.g.  women's thighs like elephant trunks, breasts like elephants' bosses.
> Yours, with best wishes,
> Jim Mallinson
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> INDOLOGY mailing list

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