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Material culture and philology: semantics of mining in ancient India.

For readers of JAOS the bold claim made in an otherwise sympathetic article by Michelle R. Warren may come as a surprise: "Philology has been more often irrelevant than controversial within mainstream critical debates. With the expansion of electric technologies and the fragmentation of the nationalist disciplines that first nurtured philology, its demise may seem more certain than ever. Roberta Frank has pointed out that some dictionaries boldly declare that the word is no longer in use." (1) It did come as a surprise to learn that what I have been doing for four decades is not only dead but the very word has been rendered obsolete! But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the death of philology has been greatly exaggerated. There is no better way to show this, and to demonstrate not just the vitality but also the indispensability of philology for studying the cultural history of the past and in a special way the material culture of the past from which critics say it is divorced, than to do a bit of philology. That is the aim of this paper.

Philology, as we know--and here I may be preaching to the choir--actually deals with the real world of the past, where words and texts are the windows into the social, religious, economic, and political histories for which we often have little other evidence. Words are often the only artifacts these societies have left. Philology, philologically, is, of course, the "love of words." And the word, actually two words, for our attention relate to a central area of ancient Indian society and economy and of its material culture, and that is mining. The importance of mining to the ancient Indian economy and material culture is well known and need not be rehearsed here. Mining produced all the metals, including iron, that anchored activities as diverse as clearing forests, agriculture, warfare, and construction. Mines also produced the raw material for luxury goods, including gold, silver, and precious stones, that anchored cultural expressions of beauty in ornaments and jewelry.

The earliest literary evidence for metals and metallurgy has been collected by Wilhelm Rau (1974) in his important study of metals and metal objects in Vedic India. Unfortunately, although it provides a wealth of information about metal objects and weapons, it tells us little about how metal was extracted from the ground, about the technologies of mining. The sole reference to a mine is in the rather late text, the Maitraymiya Upantyad 6.28 (Rau 1974: 26), which uses the term avata for a mine. (2) In describing the passage of a person along the path to Brahman, the text gives the example "as a miner in search of minerals enters a mine" (avataivavatakrd dhatukamah samvi[section]aty evam). However, I have not encountered this word with the meaning of 'mine' in other literature.

A little-noticed fact regarding ancient Indian metal culture is that there are two common and strikingly different words in Sanskrit for mine: khani and akara. I think that a close examination of these two terms and their semantic histories will shed light on the mining technologies of ancient India, on Sanskrit imagery and metaphors based on mining, and, importantly, on the dating of ancient Indian texts.

If mining requires digging into the ground, as it generally does, then khani, derived from the verbal root \'khan to 'dig', would seem to be the obvious choice. That, however, is not the case. This term is absent in an impressive list of classical Sanskrit texts: Ramayana, Mahabharata, and all the dhannagastras. Indeed, the Petersburg Dictionary, because it did not have access to Kautilya's ArthaRistra, could only refer to late sources and lexicons for this term, the earliest being KAlidasa's Raghuvarpfa (17.66; 18.22). The most common term for mine in the classical texts is akara (from the verb a -silo, meaning something like a place of scattering, or a place where things are scattered or lying around. As I have shown elsewhere (Olivelle 1997: 174 n. 1), the a prefix often indicates the place of an activity, as in aroma, aslrama, and ananda. Perhaps the word had the meaning of deposit, as in "gold deposit," that is, a place where a concentrated amount of a metal or gems is located. The use of these two terms in ancient texts may give us valuable insights into both the changes in the technology of mining in ancient India and the compositional histories of texts using these two terms.

My principal focus here is on Kautilya's Arthafastra, clearly one of the--if not the--most important source for ancient Indian society, economy, and material culture. This text is unique in that it uses both terms a substantial number of time, certainly more than any other ancient Indian text: khani 24 times and akara 12 times. The term khani is found both in the first half of the Arthatastra devoted to domestic affairs and known as Tantra (Books 1-5) and in the second half dealing with foreign affairs and known as Avapa (Books 6-14), while akara is found only in the first half.
  Tantra: 1.10.15; 2.6.1, 4; 2.11.38; 2.12.27, 36; 2.22.10;
  2.28.6; 2.35.11; 4.1.51; 4.9.2; 5.1.39; 5.2.3.
  Avapa: 6.1.8; 7.1.20;
  7.11.10 (twice); 7.11.12; 7.12.13 (twice); 7.12.25; 7.14.25; 7.16.10;
  Tantra: 1.13.21; 1.18.8; 2.1.19; 2.1.39; 2.12.1 (twice),
  20, 22, 37; 2.13.3, 9; 4.8.29.

While khani is spread throughout the entire text, the situation is quite different in the case of akara. First, the term is conspicuous by its absence in the second half of the Arthafastra. Even in the first half, it is mostly confined to Chapter 12 of Book 2, a chapter devoted to the tikaradhyaksa, the superintendent of mines. The three occurrences of the term in the first book of the Arthatastra and in 2.1.19 are all in the compound akarakarmanta, factories attached to Czkaras. At 2.13.3 and 9 we have the reference to a kind of gold that is akarodgatam, originating from auras. Two of the other occurrences of akara (2.12.37 and 4.8.29) are in verses that conclude chapters, verses that were later introductions by a redactor (Trautmann 1971: 75; McClish 2009: 104; Olivelle, forthcoming b).

Looking at the work of the, we get a clear picture of what an akara produced: gold, silver, copper, lead, tin, (3) iron, Vaikinta metal, (4) and finally gems. These are precisely the kinds of ore that one would expect to come from a mine dug into the earth or a hill. The definition of khani given at Arthasastra 2.6.4 refers to similar products:
  -prastara-rasa-dheaavah khanih I
  Gold, silver, diamonds, gems, pearls, coral, conchs, metals, salt,
  and ores in the earth, rocks, and liquids--(these constitute) khani.

Here, however, we have, in addition to common products of mines, also substances coming from underneath the sea: pearls, coral, and conchs. It appears that khani indicated anything obtained from beneath the surface, whether it is the earth or water. So diving for pearls and corals constituted sea mining.

We get an interesting insight into the semantic development of khani within the Arthailistra in a one-sentence description of the khanyadhyakya, the superintendent of khani, at 2.12.27:
  khanyadhyak.sah knikha-vajra-mani-mukta-pravala-kyara-karmantan
  karayet pananavyavahararn ca I
  The superintendent of khani should establish factories for conch
  shells, diamonds, gems, pearls, corals, and alkali, as well as the
  trade in them.

Here, one should note, the products of khani begin to be restricted to those mined from the sea. We still have diamonds and gems, which are not derived from the sea, and the somewhat unclear category of ksara, possibly sea salt as indicated by its mention in 2.6.4. Perhaps this official specialized in precious stones, under which may have been counted pearls and coral.

Another interesting piece of information is provided by a comment at Arthas'astra 2.28.5-6:
  gankha-mukto-grethino nauhdtakarn dadyuh svana-vair va-tareyuh I
  adhyaksat caisam khanyadhyaksena vyakhyatah I
  Conch and pearl fishermen should pay the boat-fee or travel in
  their own boats. What pertains to the superintendent of these,
  furthermore, has been explained under the superintendent of khani.

This back-reference may be to the single sentence on khanyadhyaksa given above (2.12.21), but I very much doubt it. My suspicion is that it refers to a longer discussion of this superintendent, such as the one found under akareidhyaksa that occupies twenty-two sutras of Chapter 12 of Book 2. This may indicate that at some point in the redactoral history of Book 2 (called the adhyaksapracara) of the ArthaRistra, the term akara came into prominence, and the semantic compass of khani became restricted, perhaps to diving for pearls and the like. However, this restriction is not observed in other parts of the Tantra section of the Arthafastra, where khani occurs with the normal meaning of pit mine. We have seen that at 2.6.4 metals are included in the definition of khani. Likewise, at 2.11.38 diamonds, at 2.12.36 metal ores, and at 2.22.10 metal merchandise (dhatupanya) are said to come from khani. So there is a possibility that the original title of 2.12 may have been khanyadhyaksa.

This confusion of the semantics of the two terms is eliminated in the second half of the Arthathstra, where only khani occurs and where it has the normal meaning of mine. I give here two examples.
  khanidhanyabhogayolj khanibhogah koscakaral), dhanyabhogab
  Between the benefits from pit-mines and
  grain--the benefits from pit-mines create the trea-sury, while the
  benefits from grain create the treasury and the storehouse.

  khanyor api yah prabhutasaram adurgamargun alpavyayarambham khanim
  khanayati, so 'tisamdhane.

  Between two pit-mines, too, the man who sets up a pit-mine yielding a
  lot of valuable materi-als, with accessible roads, and needing little
  expenditure to operate is the one who outwits. (7.12.13)

The clear linguistic demarcation between the two parts of the text, along with other evidence, supports the view that they originated from different sources (Olivelle, forthcoming b). Evidently, the source(s) of the second half (Avapa) did not undergo revisions based on the new term akara and maintained the old term khani.

Further light on the histories of these two terms may be shed by looking at other textual evidence. Unfortunately, however, our major source, the Vedas and the Vedic ritual sutras, provides little or no information on mining. The terms khani and akara in the sense of 'mine' are absent in the entire Vedic corpus, even though the term khani is used for a hole dug in the ground for ritual purposes. (5)

Panini at 3.1.145, however, gives a useful hint when he provides a rule for the formation of an agent noun in the case of a craftsman (s'ilpin) by adding the suffix aka: filpini ssvun. Patafijali, commenting on this sutra, lists three kinds of scilpins: actors, miners, and dyers: nrtik han iraiijib hyalt. Thus we get from khani the term for miner: khanaka. This is the earliest attestation, besides the Arthatastra, I have been able to find for khani.

Yet, it is certain that khani is the older of the two terms for a mine. A brief look at R. L. Turner's dictionary shows that derivatives from this term are found in Prakrit and in numerous modern Indian languages: Assamese khani, Hindi khan, Marathi khan (fasc. 3, [section]3813). No modern Indian formation from akara is recorded. There is, however, the Pali equivalent akara (fasc. 1, [section] 1000), but only in compounds such as ratnakara and only in some late texts such as the Theragatha and the rataIcas, which may have been influenced by the Classical Sanskrit usage of the term.

It appears, then, that at some point in time--probably after Pataiijali (mid second century B.C.E.)--a new term came to be coined for a place with a rich deposit of metal ores or precious stones, and that term was akara. I think it is reasonable to place this time around the first century B.C.E. It is unclear whether this resulted from a new method of mining or mining technology, using, for example, surface mining like a quarry rather than digging deep holes into the earth or into the sides of mountains. This a question that can only be answered by archeology, and perhaps this new linguistic data may spur archeologists to ask new questions of their data. The term akara then came to dominate the usage eclipsing the older khani. I have, for example, found akara used over forty times in the Mahabharata, but never khani with the meaning of mine. (6) The Mahabharata often uses akara with metaphorical meanings, such as kusumakara (6.32.35), kamalakara (3.155.52), and amrtasylikaram param (1.19.7). We see similar extended meanings of mine in English ("a mine of information"). On the other hand, khani is never used in these extended and metaphorical contexts. The Ramayana uses akara five times, (7) but never khani. The Kamasutra uses akara once (1.3.15), but not khani. The dharmagastras never use khani but only akara. (8)

The dominance of akara, as we saw, is reflected in the Arthalastra itself. The meaning of khani becomes restricted to under-water mining and gems. An interesting example of this specialized meaning, where khani becomes a sub-category of akara, is found in the use of the two terms in VarAhamihira's Brhatsanzhita. This text uses Czkara a total of twelve times, (9) but khani is found only once (80.10), in the following verse that deals with the sources of diamonds:
  srotah khanih prakirnakam ity akarasambhavas trividhah.
  What [i.e.,
  diamonds] originates from akaras is threefold: river, mine, and
  miscellaneous. (10)

So here we have khani as one kind of akara, which appears now to be extended to mean any source of gems and possibly of other minerals. This passage parallels a statement of the Arthalastra (2.11.38): khanih srotah prakirnakant ca yonayah "mine, river, and miscellaneous are the sources (of diamonds)." That akara has taken the meaning of source or place of origin rather than mine in the Brhatsamhita is indicated by 81.2, where after listing Simhalaka, Paraloka, Surastra, and others, the verse concludes that these are the eight akaras of pearls. So places such as Sri Lanka are now referred to as akaras, and in the very next verse reference is made to sin-thalakara pearls, where also akara means 'origin'.

Beyond this interesting linguistic bifurcation, the Arthalastra also provides the most detailed account of the operation of mines, as well as methods to locate them and to identify ore-bearing rocks and earth, from ancient India. Given our limited knowledge of ancient mining technology, we can only guess at the meaning of some of Kautilya's statements. But this description should be--no pun intended--a gold mine of information for archeologists.

It is the responsibility of the superintendent of mines to identify likely locations of mineral deposits, to start new mining operations, and to refurbish and make operational abandoned mines:
  The superintendent of mines--who is either proficient in
  geometry, (11) metallurgy, smelting, and coloring gems or
  assisted by one so proficient, and who is provided with
  workers skilled at such tasks along with suitable
  equipment--should inspect abandoned mines revealed
  by dross, crucibles, coal, and ashes, or new mines
  with ore-bearing earth, rocks, or liquids that have
  a strong color, exceptional weight, and acrid smell
  and taste. (Arthas'astra 2.12.1)

Kautilya goes on to provide information about the characteristics of liquids, rocks, and earth that contain metal:
  Gold-bearing liquids (12) are those that flow in the interior of
  hollows, caves, valleys, rockcuts, or covert excavations on mountains
  in recognized regions; liquids that have the color of roseapple,
  mango, palmyra nut, slice of ripe turmeric, jaggery, orpiment, red
  arsenic, honey, vermilion, white lotus, or feathers of a parrot or
  peacock; that have water and plants of the same color in the vicinity;
  and that are viscous, limpid, and heavy. If they spread like oil
  when thrown in water and soak up mud and dirt, they are capable of
  infusing copper and silver over a hundred-fold. (13) What is similar
  to them but with an acrid smell and taste should be identified as

  Ores from earth and rocks that have a yellow, copper, or
  coppery-yellow color; that contain blue streaks or have the color
  of Mudga bean, Masa bean, or Kisara porridge when they are split;
  that are speckled as if with drops or globs of curd; that have the
  color of turmeric, myrobalan, a lotus leaf, moss, liver, spleen, or
  saffron; (14) that contain lines, dots, or svastikas of fine sand
  when they are split; that have nodules and are lustrous; and that do
  not split but do produce a lot of foam and smoke when they are
  heated are the ones that are gold ore. When used as an admixture,
  they are capable of infusing copper and silver. (15)

  Those that have the color of conch, camphor, crystal, fresh butter,
  a dove, a pigeon, a Vimalaka gem, or a peacock's neck; or the color
  of Sasyaka gem, Gomedakaeg m, 16 jaggery, ery or raw sugar; or the
  color of the flowers of Kovidara, lotus, ratan, Kalaya, flax, or
  linseed; those that contain lead or antimony; that smell like raw
  flesh; that are black with a white sheen, white with a black sheen,
  or all speckled with lines or dots; that are soft and, when smelled,
  do not split but produce a lot of foam and smoke are the ones that
  are silver ores.

  In the case of all ores, as their weight increases so does
  their metal content. (Arthateistra 2.12.2-7)

Although, without a better grasp of ancient Indian metallurgy, it is difficult to fully understand the above passage, this is probably the most detailed account of metal geology that we have from ancient India. The text goes on to note the characteristics of rocks and earth that contain base metals and gems:
  When ore from rocks or an area of earth is heavy, oily, and soft--it
  is copper ore if it is yellow, green, pale red, or blood red; it is
  lead ore if it is black like a crow, or has the color of a pigeon or
  yellow bile, or is studded with white lines, and smells like raw
  flesh; it is tin ore if it is variegated like saline soil or has
  the color of baked clay; it is iron ore if it is orange, (17) pale
  red, or the color of Sinduvira flower; it is Vailq-ntalca (18) ore
  if it is colored like a KakAnda (19) or a birch leaf; it is gem (20)
  ore if it is clear, smooth, gleaming, sonorous, cool, and with a
  very intense color. (A rthafastra 2. 12. 1 2-17)

Mines and mining were probably state monopolies in ancient India. Yet, the private sector may have had a hand in mining. Kautilya advises the king to lease mines that are difficult to work or that require a lot of initial capital:
  When a mine becomes too onerous because of the expenses or effort
  required, he should lease it for a share of the proceeds or rent it
  out; he should operate by himself ones that are easy to manage.
  (Arthafastra 2.12.22)

Let me, in conclusion, turn briefly to the issue of dating texts, for which I think the use of these two terms for mines may provide valuable clues. With reference to the Arthatastra itself, I think that Kautilya could not have introduced the changes that resulted in the promi-nence given to akara in the first part of the treatise. If he had introduced this change, it is difficult to explain why he did not use the term also in the second half. The likely scenario is that at some point in the history of the first half, especially Chapter 2, the adhyaksapracara, which probably existed as an independent treatise before its incorporation into Kautilya's text (Trautmann 1971; Olivelle, forthcoming b), akara may have come into prominence within the mining industry and the term was inserted into this text. Kautilya simply incorporated the adhyaktrapracara into his treatise and, along with it, the new term akara. This linguistic updating was not carried out by the authors of the sources that Kautilya used for the second half of his treatise. I have argued (Olivelle, forthcoming b) for assigning the Kautilya recension to mid to late 1st century C.E. and his sources to early first century C.E. or first century B.C.E. This also supports the first century B.C.E. as the likely period for coining the term akara for mine.

I have shown elsewhere (Olivelle, forthcoming a) that the term dvija was a late introduction into the theological vocabulary of Brahmanism, probably in the first century B.C.E. at the earliest. I have argued that its presence in the two Sanskrit epics and in texts such as the Manava - Dharmathstra indicates a date in or after the first B.C.E. for these texts. The presence of akara in these same texts, along with the absence of khani, point, I think, in a similar direction. So, the recent dating of the epics to the first century B.C.E. or after looks like an attractive hypothesis also in the context of the semantic histories of dvija, khani, and akara. These linguistic markers, I think, can help us in the dating of other ancient Indian texts within narrower limits than has been possible thus far.


Buitenen, J. A. B. van. 1962. The Maitrayaniya Upantrad: A Critical Essay, with Text, Translation and Commentary. 's-Gravenhage: Mouton.

Kangle, R. P. 1965. The Kautilya Arthatastra, pt. III: A Study. Bombay: Univ. of Bombay.

---1969. The Kautiliya Arthafastra, pt. I: A Critical Edition and Glossary. 2nd ed. (1st ed. 1960). Bombay: Univ. of Bombay.

---1972. The Kautiliya Arthasastra, pt. II: An English Translation with Critical and Explana-tory Notes. 2nd ed. (1st ed. 1963). Bombay: Univ. of Bombay

Macri, Maria Vittoria. 1988. Lexicon Phytonimicum (Therapeutica ex Sugrutasamhita). Pubblicazioni del CESMEO. Turin.

McClish, Mark. 2009. Political Brahmanism and the State: A Compositional History of the Arthatastra.Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Texas at Austin.

Olivelle, Patrick. 1997. Orgasmic Rapture and Divine Ecstasy: The Semantic History of ananda. Jour-nal of Indian Philosophy 25: 153-80.

--Forthcoming a. Patatijali and the Beginnings of Dharmagastra: An Alternate Social History of Early Dharmasutra Production. Aux abords de la clairiere: Colloque en l'honneur de Ch. Mala-moud. Bibliotheque de l'Ecole des Hautes Etudes--Sciences religieuses. Paris: Brepolis.

--Forthcoming b. King, Governance, and Law in Ancient India: Kautilya's Arthagastra. A New Annotated Translation. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Rau, Wilhelm. 1974. Metalle und Metallgeriite im vedischen Indien. Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literature. Abhandlungen der Geisten-und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse, no. 8. Wiesbaden: Steiner.

Scharfe, Hartmut. 1993. Investigations in Kautalya's Manual of Political Science. Wiesbaden: Har-rassowitz.

Shamasastry, R., tr. 1961. Kautiliya's Arthas'astra. 7th ed. Mysore: Mysore Print and Publishing House.

Tokunaga, Muneo. 2005. On the Origin of the Layas. The Journal of Philosophical Studies (University of Kyoto) 580: 1-11.

Trautmann, Thomas. 1971. Kautilya and the Arthasastra: A Statistical Investigation of the Authorship and Evolution of the Text. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

Turner, R. L. 1962-69. A Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages. London: Oxford Univ. Press.

Wojtilla, Gyula. 2009. Ratnatastra in Kautilya's Arthagastra (KA). Acta Orientalia Academiae Scien-tiarum Hung. 62: 37-44.

(1.) "Post-Philology," in Postcolonial Moves: Medieval through Modern, ed. Patricia Clare Ingham and Michelle R. Warren (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 19.

(2.) van Buitenen (1962) places this passage within the sections that he considered later interpolations.

(3.) Rau (1974: 20), however, says that tin, although already known from the Vedic period, had to be imported, because there are hardly any deposits of tin within India.

(4.) The exact meaning of this term is unknown. Kangle, in his translation of the Arthathstra, guesses that it may be some sort of specialized iron. The term occurs with sufficient frequency in the Arthatastra (see 2.17.14; 4.1.35) within lists of metals for it to have been a well-known type of metal. Monier-Williams cites lexicons for the meaning of mercury, which is doubtful in this context.

(5.) See Baudhayana grautasatra 5.22.1 (10); Apastamba grautasatra 2.2.3.

(6.) The term is used at 2.59.8 as a verb to mean 'dig up', and at 14.4.7 in the name Khaninetra.

(7.) 1.34.12; 3.15.24; 4.15.17; 4.39.22, 29.

(8.) Baudhayana Dharmasatra 1.9.3; Manava Dharmaiastra 7.62; 8.419; Yaftlavalkya Dharmaiastra 3.242; Vaisnava Dharmaiii stra 3.16, 55; 23.48; 37.22.

(9.) Bj-hatsamhita 14.12; 16.14, 26; 19.6, 10, 17; 47.24; 79.10: 80.2, 3; 103.12, 61.

(10.) It is unclear whether here, and in the parallel passage of the Arthatastra, the term prakirnakam simply means 'miscellaneous' or has a more technical meaning referring to a particular kind of mineral or gem deposit.

(11.) The term lulba occurs here and in the context of the superintendent of agriculture (2.24.1). The meaning of the term in these two contexts is unclear. Given the work that these two officials have to undertake, it must refer both to the measuring and surveying of the land and to evaluations of land suitable for various kind of agriculture and mining activities. In the context of mines, it may have the meaning of detecting hidden deposits of ores; we have an enumeration of such signs at 2.12.2-7. Kangle (1972: 182) translates the term as 'geology', and the term probably encompasses some aspects of geology.

(12.) The solubility of gold in certain kinds of liquids has been scientifically established: see R. W. Henley, "Solubility of Gold in Hydrothermal Chloride Solutions," Chemical Geology 11 (1973): 73-87; I. Y. Nekrasov, Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Genesis of Gold Deposits (Rotterdam: Balkema, 1996), 1311

(13.) The significance of veddhr (meaning something like 'infuse'), a term found only here in the Arthalastra, is obscure. I think the term may refer to a process where this liquid is used in the smelting of copper and silver ore. We have a similar statement at the end of 2.12.5 with the term vedhana. Shamasastry translates as "amalgamate themselves more than cent per cent with copper or silver." Kangle (1965: 71-72) dismisses the idea that this rasa in the AS refers to some kind of alchemy. Scharfe (1993: 275), however, supports Jolly's theory that the term veddhr in its current meaning is derived from Greek chemistry and alchemy. I do not think that as practical a text as this will be dealing with alchemy; and we do not find the mention of mercury anywhere in the text. The idea here appears to be the boiling of copper and silver with a liquid containing gold in solution. This process deposits gold ions on the surface of the other inferior metal, making it take on the appearance of gold. This is the kind of gold alloy that is referred to as rasaviddha at 2.13.3, where all the other terms also refer to sources of gold.

(14.) The term anavadya (lit., 'faultless') is problematic. Wojtilla (2009: 40) has taken issue with Kangle's rendering "colour of saffron," pointing out that rubies are not saffron-colored, meaning yellow. There are two other passages that use the compound anavadyavarrya. At 2.11.51 it refers to the color of sandalwood (the other color mentioned being renblack), and at 2.12.5 it refers to gold-bearing ores, and the two other colors mentioned alongside this are the color of a liver or spleen. It is difficult to see in these contexts what a "faultless color" may mean. In both contexts, the color is something close to red. The problem raised by Wojtilla can be solved if we take the color to be that of saffron stamens, which are the ones used in flavoring, rather than the flower or the yellow color normally referred to as saffron. The stigmas of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) are dark red in color, and taking the color as related to a flower also fits the context where numerous flowers are mentioned.

(15.) The term prativapa ('admixture') indicates a chemical that is added to the smelting or boiling of something. This addition creates a coating, just as in 2.12.3. See the use of this term at 2.12.8, 11; 2.25.22; 14.2.6. It appears that here gold-bearing ore is heated with solid pieces of copper or silver. The gold is deposited on the surface of the other metal, creating a coating of gold similar to the one described above in note 13. I want to thank Gyula Wojtilla for his insights into these metallurgical processes. Much, however, remains obscure.

(16.) For these varieties of gems, see Arthathstra 2.11.30 and 35. The last, Gomedhaka, appears to be a type of beryl that has the color of cow's fat.

(17.) The meaning of the term khururnba ('orange') is obscure. Kangle, following the commentators, takes it to mean ore consisting of smooth stones. I take it as a color because it is color that predominates in these descriptions. Variant spellings of this word include kurumba, which may connect it to kuruba, kurabaka, indicating a red-colored flower (Barleria or amaranth).

(18.) See note 4.

(19.) Kakanda: literally means 'crow's egg', but it is the tree Diospyros tomentoa (Macri 1988: 33) and identified as mahanimba in the Sabdakalpadruma.

(20.) The term mug generally means a gem or a precious stone. Coming as it does at the end of a list of metal ores, it is certainly out of place. The term, however, does not occur anywhere else as a particular metal, even though Tokunaga (2005: 5) appears to indicate that it is the name of a metal.

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Author:Olivelle, Patrick
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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