Long ear culture from India to Mesoamerica – a Vedic and Tamil influence! (Part 2)
Part 1 here
Now let me get back to the design of the ear ornament, the Paambadam or Nagali in serpent design. Does this convey any meaning? Yes it does. The naga or serpent design is associated with none other than Lord Shiva.
The rules of iconography as given in "Mayamatham" written by Maya, make a specific mention of the design of the ear ornament only for Shiva. This is not the case with other deities or semi-deities. For other deities, it is simply said that some decorative ornaments must be worn on the ears. For "Ardhanaressvara" form of Shiva, specific ear ornaments are mentioned. This form shows Shiva and his consort Uma as two halves of the same body. The image of Shiva is depicted on the right half and that of Uma on the left half of the body. Mayan makes specific mention of the kind of ornaments to be sculpted for the Shiva-half and for Uma- half so that the separate identities of these two deities can be recognised.
After describing the hair arrangement and marks on the forehead, Mayan says that the right ear corresponding to Shiva must be shown as wearing a pendant in the form of "Vasuki" the serpent that was used to churn the Meru in the mythical story of Churning of the ocean. In the left ear corresponding to Uma, a "tAlika" pendant or a "pAlika" pendant must be shown. (Mayamatham , chapter 36, verses 82 and 83)
In the above image of Ardhanareesvara found in Gangai Konda Cholapuram, in Tamilnadu, most features mentioned in Mayamatham are seen. The left ear had pAlika pendant while the right ear has naga pendant
From this it is deduced that Shiva was identified with wearing serpent like ear ornament. The Pambadam (in Tamil) or nagali as it is known in other parts of India, must have been popular among Shiva worshippers. Others had used tAlika or pAlika or some design. I don't think Ramanujacharya would have used a Pambadam.
The female side can have any of the two designs according to Mayamatham. The "tAlika" corresponds to "Olai" in Tamil which is a sheath of long leaf that was rolled and inserted in the hole of the ear to make it big. The botanical name is "Curculigo orchioides" and commonly known as eye grass. The leaf was rolled and used as an ear ornament.
Another meaning of TAlika is palm of the hand. Long palm like leaves were worn by women in olden days. The Tamil term "Olai" actually refers to the sheath of the palm leaf that was rolled and worn in the ear. The other ornament PAlika means pot. Pot like ornaments called as "Kunadala" that resemble a pot or a ring or a coil are often seen in the female images in temples.
The pillar carving of Shiva- Parthy marriage found in Meenakshi temple at Madurai shows Shiva with Naga and pAlika in his ears though he it was not his Ardhanareesvara form. Take a look at the picture below.
To our right is Shiva who is seen with different ornaments in his ears. Though this is not the Ardhanareesvara image, the ear ornaments are shown as in Ardha nareesvara. The left ear corresponding to Uma had pAlika pendant whereas the right ear corresponding to Shiva has Naga pendant. We can see that no such differences are there in the ear ornaments worn by Parvathy (middle) or Vishnu (to our left). The naga ornament is so unique to Lord Shiva that the sculptors had depicted it on the right ear.
Generally serpent shaped ornaments are seen worn by Shiva related deities. For example the Dvarapala (door keeper) at the Halebid temple in Karnataka of the Hoysala period sports naga ear ornament.
The Halebid temple was not finished but the presence of Nandi bull as the Guard in that temple shows that the main deity was in the nature of Shiva symbolism. The Naga pendant of the Dvarapala goes well with Shiva worship.
Checking these two features – ear piercing with long ears and naga pendants as ear ornaments – in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean communities, there is plenty of evidence of long ear culture in these regions. The Easter Island statues were said to have been made in the 13th century CE or after. However similar looking stone statues with long ears were established at Tula (Mexico) around 500 CE.
Look at the long ears. The interesting information is that these statues were built by Nahua people – Nahua sounding like Naga! In fact the Easter Island statues are also tall statues like this with their bodies buried underground.
The same belief system must have been behind the statues at Easter Island and Mesoamerican Tula region.
The Toltec culture of the Tula region (800 to 1000 CE) also followed ear piercing practice.
The above image is that of a clay vessel featuring a face that has ear ornaments of the "pAlika" kind.
The previous Moche culture ( 100 to 750 CE) that was present in the [Andes] region and around features similar practice. The Moche figurines are shown below.
In addition to the ear piercing, notice the squatting posture. It is also typical of the Vedic society. The priests doing the yajnas will be seated in this posture. This is the common sitting posture for anyone in the Vedic culture – even today.
Inti, the Incan sun God wears "pAlika" type heavy ornaments in the ears. PAlika or pot type is the most common type of ear ornaments among men and women in the Vedic society.
The Tlatilco culture (1200 BCE to 200 BCE) also shows the ear piercing practice and even Kali / Durga worship. See the images below.
Pierced ear is seen in these figurines.
Stretched ears made so by ear ornaments are seen in this image. The dress is similar Indian salwar.
The Sican culture in Peru features not only the ear ornaments that stretch the ears but also nose rings!!
The period of this culture is from 750 to 1375 CE.
The nose ring seen in the above picture is common in India. Take a look at this Reddy woman from Andhra Pradesh, India. She is wearing a Naga ear ornament and a nose ring - same as the one seen in Sican mask above.
How could these similarities have gone into people of two different places separated by vast distances?
The mystery is solved in the image of the Mesoamerican Nahua deity called Quetzalcoatl.
Scholars have so far concentrated on the coiled stick of this image. But look at the ear ornament. It is the typical ear ornament of the Vedic society that makes the ear look large. The design of the ear ornament is the same as found in Hindu temple figures. The coiled stick is similar to the danda or stick that Vedic sages used to carry and use as hand-rest.
The Jewish Ashera is seen with a similar stick with a coiled body.
It is the same kind of stick that sages used during meditation.
This kind of mediation of yogic penance is associated with Shiva and his devotees. Even Lord Shiva is shown to be in yogic meditation with his hand resting on the stick. The stick is designed as a coil to resemble a serpent. The symbolism is that the Life force of Kundalini is like a serpent coiled and situated in Muladhara and is awakened by meditation (read here).
The Nahua deity showing the similar looking stick shows from where the symbolism of that image was taken. The spiral or coil of the stick similar to a coil of the serpent identifies the Nahua people as Nagas and Shiva worshipers.
Earlier I quoted from Mayamatham that the serpent ornament of Shiva's right ear was Vasuki. Vasuki symbolises the churning of the ocean. Due to the constant spin of the earth, the mantle oceans and the mantle get churned resulting in occasional upheaval of lava or the mantle elements. The result is the formation of caves once after the lava had created many passages. Such formations are common in Ninety degree range in the Indian Ocean and in Polynesian islands of which Easter Island is one. The Ninety degree range at the end of which Nagaland is situated in India is shown in the picture below.
The dwellers in the caves are called as Nagas as they are like serpents that live in underground or hidden holes. Wherever serpents are present, there Shiva is present to take control of them. The dance of death experienced in the upheaval of the lava is symbolised by the dance of Shiva, the controller of death. That is why serpents, Shiva, caves and places that experienced unnatural deaths and upheavals come together. This is the idea of the Vedic society.
Those who seek protection from snakes and unnatural deaths worship Shiva and wear serpent like ear ornaments. That is how the Paambadam or Nagalu ornaments had come into use. But behind that, prayer to Shiva had existed. The Shiva element may be gone in due course but the ear ornaments and Vedic practice of ear piercing had continued in Polynesia and Mesoamerica.
There are many other imprints of the Vedic society in these two regions, one of which is the Narasimha like image found in Aztec society.
This image has long ears with ear ornaments. The lion mask and seating posture with a being on the lap resembles death of Hiranyakashipu in the lap of Lord Narasimha. This one found in Aztec culture is one of the many features of proof of Vedic Puranic stories in Mesoamerica. How they have gone there is a major issue that would unravel the presence of Vedic features in pre-Columbian Americas. I will take it up one by one in my future articles.