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Old 5th April 2021, 01:32 AM   #9
Philip's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: California
Posts: 927
Default going after sleeping tigers

Originally Posted by DavidFriedman

One more thing. I asked a teacher of Indian martial arts about it. He mentioned that, from his understanding, Kaparlik (sp?) skull carrying acolytes of the Shiva tradition (if I understood correctly) used this type of mace/staff. A legend was that these semi-naked spiritual warriors would sneak up on tigers and kill them in their sleep. It sounds to me more a metaphor of courage, stealth and wildness, rather than an actual practice. But I wonder if that is a lead to follow up on as well.
David, I know you have a martial arts background, but please refrain from trying this at your local zoo. Even if the shaft of your mace does have an iron core!

Seriously, the legend makes it a great metaphor. It mirrors the longevity of the tradition of European aristocracy hunting wild boar with spears, from the Middle Ages until recent times as evidenced by countless works of art, and spears of various dates and origins in collections. Indeed, the practice is depicted in Roman art (most notably a dramatically carved marble frieze in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence), and is immortalized in the Greek legend of Meleander and Atalanta killing the Hogzilla-sized Calydonian Boar, as recounted in Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Europe, lacking tigers in its native fauna, found the wild boar a worthy substitute for tenacity, strength, and ferocity. The animal was revered by the ancient Celtic peoples as a symbol of courage (the ancient tribes of Scotland used a war-trumpet modeled after a boar's tusked gaping maw, called a carynx, before they got the hang of bagpipes; its sound was enough to cause some alarm in the ranks of Roman legionaries facing them in the field.) Numerous stone boar statues from prehistoric times have been unearthed in northern Portugal and adjoining Spain, where Celtiberian civilization had a long tenure.
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