Re: maize in ancient india: strong transpacific links are indicated

Domingo Martinez-Castilla (
Sat, 28 Dec 96 03:32:44 GMT

Summary of rebuttal article by Payak and Sachan is below.

(Please excuse the cross-posting, but it should remain as the original so
everybody can have the same references.)

In article <>, (Peter van Rossum)
>Payak, M.M., and Sachan, J.K.S.
> 1993 "Maize Ears Not Sculpted in 13th Century Somnathpur
> Temple in India." Economic botany. APR 01 1993, vol. 47
> no. 2, P. 202-

This article's abstract says:

The contention that objects in the hands of male and female deities sculpted
on the exterior of the Kesav Temple at Somnathpur near the city of Mysore,
Karnataka State, India, represent maize ears is rejected on linguistic,
religious, sculptural, archaeological, and botanical grounds. The stone
inscriptions associated with the temple list items or commodities used in
worship, maize is not included. We find no evidence for maize figuring in any
kind of religious ritual or worship. The word for maize used currently in the
Kannada language is "Musukin Jola" which refers to a kind of millet resembling
sorghum (jola). This appelation is of recent origin and does not appear in
any literary work contemporary with the period of construction of Somnathpur
temple. The wall images do not fully simulate in form and proportion the
actual human figures. The beaded ornamentation, likewise, of the hand-held
object shows considerable variation and its comparison whether on qualitative
or quantitative basis with actual maize kernels of both primitive and modern
maize is inappropriate. The variation in form and proportion and stylistic
features of these objects is ascribed to their being the work of different
sculptors. Maize now grown near the temple comprises modern cultivars,
especially hybrids released during the early 1960's. It is inconceivable that
none of the primitive and advanced types of maize purported to be represented
in the temple sculpture would have been considered worthy of cultivation from
thirteenth century to the present time. We hold that these temple sculptures
do not represent maize or its ear but an imaginary fruit bearing pearls known
in Sanskrit as "Muktaphala"

-- end of abstract.

The article is very much to the point, for in less than three pages of text
they just throw item after item of counterargumentation without too much
adornment. Note also that Johannessen and Parker chose not to cite a previous
brief exchange (in Nature) with the same authors on the same topic.

What follows is a list of references that anybody interested in this issue
would have to consult:

Johannessen 1988 "Indian maize in the twelfth century B.C." Nature 332:587
(note that the date was worng: should have said A.D.)

Payak and Sachan 1988 "Maize in Somnathpur, an Indian medioeval temple",
Nature 335: 773-774

Johannessen and Parker 1989 "Maize ears sculptured..." Economic Botany

Veena and Sigamani 1991 "Do objects in friezes of Somanthpur temple (1268 AD)
in South India represent maize ears?" Current Science 61:395-396

And the one whose abstract is above.

There seems to be nothing else in the topic. If I find it, I sure will post
it. It seems to be one more fizzling gun, for a change.


Domingo Martinez Castilla