[INDOLOGY] Cart-shaped, śakaṭākāra

Toke Lindegaard Knudsen toke.knudsen at hum.ku.dk
Thu Apr 5 10:53:40 UTC 2018

Hi all,

In a passage of interest to me, the author attributes to “some” the idea that the earth resembles or is shaped like a cart (bhuvam … śakaṭākārām). I’m trying to understand (1) what precisely is understood by “cart-shaped” (śakaṭākāra or śakaṭākṛti) and (2) how the earth can have the shape of a cart.

In Phanindra Nath Bose’s _Principles of Indian Silpasastra_ from 1926, śakaṭākṛti is explained (p. 75) as, “cart-shaped or quadrangular, with a long triangular projection on one side.”

In the Śilpa-prakāśa (Alice Boner and Sadāśiva Rath Śarmā’s edition, translation, and study, second revised edition, 2005), a list of shapes of building sites is given. One such shape is śakaṭākṛti (verse 1.39), which is translated as “a tapering bullock-cart (śakaṭākṛti kuñcita).” The book contains facsimiles of the palm leaf pages of a manuscript, which includes drawings to illustrate the building-site shapes (plate I). The drawing of the cart-shaped building site doesn’t look like what Bose describes (see above), but rather looks like an isosceles trapezoid.

I also found that “cart-shaped” is included in a list of possible shapes of the sacred śālagrāma stones. This particular shape is undesirable.

Would any of you have any clues or thoughts on which geometrical figure (or figures) “cart-shaped” refers to? Or further references in this regard?

Best wishes,

Toke Lindegaard Knudsen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
University of Copenhagen

<toke.knudsen at hum.ku.dk>

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