Indologist confirms maize in ancient sculptures

Graham Harden G.Harden at
Sun Nov 15 20:11:24 EST 1998

Dear all,

It appears that people had asked most of my questions previously.  I thank
all of you for your interesting responses.  It appears I will have to read
Gupta's book myself before making many further comments.  Particularly
interesting is the range of other species that others have quoted her as
having found in pre-columbian era sculpture.

To have found all these together does lend weight to the thought of American
contact, but then begs the question of how such contact occurred.  It sounds
like many favour a gradual movement of useful species such as maize across
from Europe or China, but to my thinking the evidence so far discussed
suggests transmission may have been rather focussed.  Somethign like a
trading mission would make sense if the evidence (apart from maize) is
confined to one era and area.  Long term spread across continents is
unlikely to have resulted in so many species appearing in such proximity
without leaving "footpirnt" clusters of naturalised populations, even if
they were no longer cultivated.  Maize excepted, the other species are quite
likely to self sow and in some cases such as sunflower and Monstera, are
difficult to eradicate.

One could go looking for these as evidence along trade routes if a
dispersion method were to be examined.

Another things that would point to concerted transmission is that plants
most commonly transported as vegetative parts (ie pineapple, monstera etc..)
are unlikley to travel at the same rate as seeded crops across continents
due to the added preparation, bulk and care required in their movement.

I invite whatever discussion arises....

By the way, does anyone know if Gupta had the full collaboration of a local
systematic botanist (ie taxonomist)?  If there is one attached to her it
would lend much credence to her claims of elimination of local analogies.
Please don't flame me, I only want to know, as I haven't been able to locate
a copy of her text yet.

BTW as background for those who may desire an informed rebuttal.  I am not a
cultural studies expert, but a graduate in Agriculture, plant production and


Hu McCulloch wrote in message ...
>arron <kcchin at> writes, concerning Monstera deliciosa
>(aka split leaf philodendron, or Mexican breadfruit), one of the several
>New World plants, including maize, sunflower, sweetsop (sometimes called
>custard apple), pineapple, and cashew reported by Indologist
>Shakti M Gupta in her 1996 _Plants in Indian Temple Art_ as
>appearing in Hindu and Jain temple sculptures of the 13th
>century AD and earlier,
>>Graham Harden wrote:
>>> of the fruit of the Monstera deliciosa..... aka fruit-salad-fruit.
>>....................fruit of Monstera  edible?????    (fruit and
>>salad).....always assume it to be poisonous  and have been advising kids
not to
>>even play near them...................................
>>(thought  plants with latex are have great chance of being poisonous.).
>Apparently the leaves are poisonous and a hazard to children and pets.
>However, Gupta reports that its fruit is considered to be a delicacy,
>and has a mixed flavor of pineapple and banana.
>Her Figure 136 (p. 109) shows both the leaf, draped over
>the shoulders of Vishnu, and the fruit, held on a dish by a smaller
>figure to Vishnu's right.
>-- Hu McCulloch

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