ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design

25. How Elephants lost their wings

Bathing elephant
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Indian Elephants
Elephant's Shower
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Indian Elephants
Majestic Elephant
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Indian Elephants
Stretching exercise for elephants
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Indian Elephants
Elephants' side
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Indian Elephants
Elephant's trunk
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Indian Elephants
Inquiring Trunk
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Indian Elephants
Elephant portrait
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Indian Elephants
Elephant from behind
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Indian Elephants

 

During the legendary spring of the world, elephants had wings and used to fly. They where the offspring of the very first eight male elephants, born from the right-half of the shell of the primordial egg, and the very first eight female elephants, born from the left-half of the egg.
They had the magical power to create clouds, and just like them, they could change their own shape.


But one day, some clunky pachyderms decided to lie down on the branches of a huge tree, under which a Sage was teaching. Under their weight the wood cracked and a lot of students died crushed.
Showing total indifference, the elephants lifted and laid down on another branch. The Sage, enraged, cursed those flying clouds to lose their wings and become simple quadrupeds.
From that day, the elephants walked on the earth, but due to their strict relationship with their celestial brothers, they are means of cultural knowledge in India.



One of the most common picture you can find in Hindu houses is the icon of Gaja Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity. She sits between two white elephants.
First carvings of elephants are found on the seals of one of the most ancient civilization in the world: the culture of the Indus Valley (IVC, 2,500-1,500 B.C.)
At the time of Alexander the Great, elephants were trained already: they closed his way to conquer India with an army of pachyderms (and maybe some of them where introduced in the Persian Empire to join, years later, the army of Hannibal).
A lot of monuments (were they Hindu, Buddhist or Jainist) are filled with statues and bas-relieves of those animals. They are symbol of stability.



The best way to get information about elephants, however, is the Indian Hastyayurveda, the complete treatise on elephants.

In this complete guide (7,600 couplets and some prose chapters) you’ll learn everything about a pachyderm. Only kings could possibly own one, and they were captured in forests and then trained to serve in the army or for carriage purpose. They were also used as royal mounts during parades.

To choose a proper elephant, you need to know the signs of good omen of his shape, properly explained in the text.

The color of his eyes and his gaze tell you his manners and attitude. A dark tongue is sign of unpredictability.
The most beautiful fangs are long, bent upwards and of a nice, creamy color. 20 is the perfect number of nails an elephant should have (like Airavata, elephant of god Indra). 16, however, is the norm. Less than is might cause some issues.
The skin must be as dark as ink; the tail should be long enough to reach the heels without touching the ground.


You can sense the good attitude of an elephant by his posture: a proud gaze, the head held high, back bent downward, straight paws firmly laid on the ground.
It’s pretty common to see an elephant (in chains) when you travel across India. Knowing the manners of an elephant in advance will teach you the distance you want to keep from them. Those pachyderms are huge and wild: don’t get too close, if there’s no expert mahout (breeder and trainer) around.

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