Indologist confirms maize in ancient sculptures

lbrman at lbrman at
Sat Nov 14 22:18:42 EST 1998

In article <mcculloch.2.70.3641AC75 at>,
  mcculloch.2 at (Hu McCulloch) wrote:
> Graham Harden had written, concerning the 12th-13th c Hoysala
> temple carvings identified as maize by Johannessen and Parker
> (1989 _Economic Botany_) and now confirmed by Shakti M Gupta
> (_Plants in Indian Temple Art_, 1996),

I have two Climbing Ceriman (Monstera deliciosa) plants growing in my
greenhouse.  The fruit develops in a hard leathery sheath, and it looks very
much like an ear of corn.  I have not yet had the pleasure of tasting one,
since for some reason, they don't ripen, just go from green to rotten.

> >>I know they look like
> >>maize to the Americo-centric eye, but to me the first impression I have is
> >>of the fruit of the Monstera deliciosa..... aka fruit-salad-fruit.
> I had replied,
> >The leaf of the Monstera deliciosa does appear in pre-Columbian India
> >temple art, according to Gupta (pp. 108-9).  However, Monstera is
> >_also_ a  New World plant!  Out of 70 plants Gupta identifies in
> >temple art, 6 are New World!  I wasn't aware it had a noteworthy fruit,
> >but I highly doubt that it matches these closer than maize.  I'll look for
> >an illustration of it when I get over to the Botany library one of these
> >days.   To Dr. Gupta's "Indo-centric" eye (she's an Indologist and an
> >ethnobotanist, affiliated with the University of Delhi), the sculptures look
> >like maize, not monstera fruits, which she is surely familiar with.
> I still haven't found a photo of the monstera fruit, but I've turned
> up some useful information about the monstera on the web.
> The Monstera deliciosa is also known as the split leaf
> philodendron, Philodendron pertusum, Mexican breadfruit,
> and ceriman.  An award winning photo of its unusual flower
> is at    See also
>         Monstera_deliciosa.html
> On more closely reading Gupta's entry on Monstera deliciosa
> Leibm., she says it has a "cone-like edible fruit which has a mixed
> flavour of pineapple and banana and considered a delicacy.  The
> fruit takes a long time to mature and ripens from base upwards."
> (p. 108).  I hadn't noticed it earlier, but in her Plate 136,
> the standing Vishnu not only has monstera leaves draping
> over his shoulders, but also,  "The figure on Vishnu's right is
> holding a fruit of Monstera on a plate in his left hand." (p. 109)
> The fruit is shown on a very small scale, and the sculpture is
> somewhat damaged, so it is not clear from this photo what
> the fruit really looks like, or whether it could be mistaken for
> a maize ear.
> -- Hu McCulloch

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