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Old 26th November 2019, 09:08 PM   #151
Jim McDougall
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There is absolutely no dispute that elephants have been used in warfare for a VERY long time (great Latin phrase there tot saecula! love to learn). The only point I was trying to make is that there were certain concerns in using them given the potential for disastrous outcome in doing so.

The use of elephants in work situations, transport, hauling etc. is more logical in field logistics, while the volatility of combat effects virtually all involved, and the size of these animals rendered them a potent threat to all around.

Very good analogy on the cannon, which were indeed dangerous to the gunners themselves, much in the same manner that were most firearms to those firing them. Powerful explosions literally blowing up guns took a toll on the men using them in more cases than have surely ever been recorded.

There is I think substantial agreement here that elephants were indeed present in combat circumstances in degree, but in many accounts of their use as 'weapons' there have been 'backfires'. The case for blades being attached to tusks seems also agreed, in degree, with the only question being, just 'how much so' and were these more for parade purposes in later times in the manner of many weapon forms becoming more vestigially present.

Once again, I just continue wondering just how feasible or logical is putting a sword blade on the trunk of an elephant, despite suggestions in the literature. There is no doubt people did VERY questionable things as far as combative devices using creatures. ..
In analogy , I think of the case of bats used in New Mexico in WWII as flying incendiary bombs with combustible devices attached. Unfortunately, they when released flew back to the hangers where they had been held, and of course they burned to the ground. Instincts are far more powerful than any human training in far too many instances.
I think there was one where the Chinese tried tying torches to the tails of elephants, with unexpected adverse result.
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Old 27th November 2019, 07:47 AM   #152
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...
In analogy , I think of the case of bats used in New Mexico in WWII as flying incendiary bombs with combustible devices attached. Unfortunately, they when released flew back to the hangers where they had been held, and of course they burned to the ground. Instincts are far more powerful than any human training in far too many instances.
I think there was one where the Chinese tried tying torches to the tails of elephants, with unexpected adverse result.


The Soviets in WW2 trained dogs to run under tanks with backpacks on, Their first test engagement against a line of German panzers they put anti-tank mines with a vertical contact fuse on the dogs, and released them towards the German tanks, they promptly turned around and ran under the Soviet tanks, which all blew up. They'd trained them with soviet tanks...Project sancelled.

Canidae get Abused in more ancient times as well:

Judges 15: (Christian Bible Old testament)
Then he went out and caught 300 foxes. He tied their tails together in pairs, and he fastened a torch to each pair of tails.
Then he lit the torches and let the foxes run through the grain fields of the Philistines. He burned all their grain to the ground, including the sheaves and the uncut grain. He also destroyed their vineyards and olive groves.

The Romans apparently were fond of doing this to foxes.

Ovid hints at its archaic, brutal nature of the Cerealia (held for seven days from mid to late April) when he describes a nighttime ritual; blazing torches were tied to the tails of live foxes, who were released into the Circus Maximus. The origin and purpose of this ritual are unknown; it may have been intended to cleanse the growing crops and protect them from disease and vermin, or to add warmth and vitality to their growth. Ovid suggests that long ago, at ancient Carleoli, a farm-boy caught a fox stealing chickens and tried to burn it alive. The fox escaped, ablaze; in its flight it fired the fields and their crops, which were sacred to Ceres. Ever since, foxes are punished at her festival.
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Old 27th November 2019, 09:07 AM   #153
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Let us not digress by that road, in such exppressive manner... please ?
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Old 27th November 2019, 01:05 PM   #154
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Jim,
I see your point about trunk swords and deep inside I am on your side. Moreover, their physical absence in museum collections is disturbing.


However, we have several separate accounts of their existence and I just cannot bring myself to ignoring them.

Yet, by the same token, several medieval travelers described their actual encounters with men with dog heads .

In short, itís a conundrum that will be solved only if we find a physical example.
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Old 27th November 2019, 01:35 PM   #155
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
The Soviets in WW2 trained dogs to run under tanks with backpacks on, Their first test engagement against a line of German panzers they put anti-tank mines with a vertical contact fuse on the dogs, and released them towards the German tanks, they promptly turned around and ran under the Soviet tanks, which all blew up. They'd trained them with soviet tanks...Project sancelled.


Although this information is not related to the topic, I must note that this is false information.
Dogs destroyed up to 300 German tanks during the period from 1941 to 1945.
The German source mentions the destruction as a minimum of one German tank in October 1941 on the outskirts of Karachev.
In the summer of 1943, in the battle of Kursk, 12 German tanks were destroyed with the help of dogs.
Dogs were a problem for the Germans, because the tank machine gun was located high enough and hardly got into a dog moving quickly near the surface of the earth. The German command ordered every soldier to shoot any dog ​​that appears in sight. Killing dogs was prescribed even to pilots of Luftwaffe fighters - from airplanes.
Over time, the Wehrmacht soldiers began to use flamethrowers installed on tanks against dogs, this turned out to be a fairly effective countermeasure, however, some dogs still could not be stopped.
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Old 27th November 2019, 03:34 PM   #156
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I stand corrected, thanks.
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Old 27th November 2019, 03:54 PM   #157
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Jim,
I see your point about trunk swords and deep inside I am on your side. Moreover, their physical absence in museum collections is disturbing.


However, we have several separate accounts of their existence and I just cannot bring myself to ignoring them.

Yet, by the same token, several medieval travelers described their actual encounters with men with dog heads .

In short, itís a conundrum that will be solved only if we find a physical example.



Ariel, thank you so much for the very kind recognition, and agree that the physical absence of these in museums makes their actual existence somewhat suspect. However, you are right in that cross references which occur in various unrelated literature do greatly increase the probability that these may well have existed.
Perhaps it is that it was simply an ersatz application in which a weapon was attached to the trunk with conventional means, as described in some of the accounts, (i.e.)'they attached swords to the trunks'.

If this were the case, they were not a specifically designed weapon as the tusk 'caps' were, and simple lashings or other holding methods. If this were the case, then the sword/blades etc. would have simply been gone after use. Therefore, no actually 'designed' weapon would remain.

It is noted that many times the elephants were with heavy chains attached to the trunks, well described in numerous accounts, however, we do not have examples of these among museum holdings either.

So at this point, I would concede that there must of have been instances of either swords or some sort of blade conventionally attached to the trunks of elephants in the same manner as the chains, but these items were not designed in particular for such use. The term 'trunk sword' therefore would be 'situational' and in that sense, they probably did exist.

The 'tusk swords' appear to be a very different case, in which caps placed over the stumped tusk of elephants which carried a blade extending from them. These do not seem to have widely used either, but appear to have become used with elaborate elephant armor which became used in parade, court and impressive displays after the decline of elephant use in warfare post 16th c. The advent of guns is described as the primary reason for such decline in their use after that time.

Much as the widespread 'recycling' of edged weapons in these later times, it seems apparent that these tusk swords likely fell to the massed destruction of many weapons as they were damaged or simply no longer used. Of these, select items were saved for preservation in princely armories.

Regarding previous posts on animals being used in unfortunate manner as weapons, I regret my analogy on bats in my earlier post, and very much agree, this digression is best left out of this discussion further.
Our discussion is on weapons used BY animals, not animals used AS weapons.
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Old 27th November 2019, 05:25 PM   #158
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... Perhaps it is that it was simply an ersatz application in which a weapon was attached to the trunk with conventional means, as described in some of the accounts, (i.e.)'they attached swords to the trunks'... If this were the case, they were not a specifically designed weapon as the tusk 'caps' were, and simple lashings or other holding methods. If this were the case, then the sword/blades etc. would have simply been gone after use. Therefore, no actually 'designed' weapon would remain ...

This would be a rather pertinent approach, Jim; bladed 'devices' fit to strike the enemy ranks.
Rmember Captain Jo„o Ribeiro saw the Ceylon specimens and describes them as (literally) disform (unformed, monstruous, disproportionate) traÁados * or swords the width of a hand.
The term sword as recorded could refer to their intended purpose and not to their actual typology. Surely no guard, or hilt comprehended; maybe not even (so) sharp edged. But, in the need to write about them, sword would be the 'appropriate' name.
*Currently terÁado, a straight short sword; but these could have fallen into a different typology in the period.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... Regarding previous posts on animals being used in unfortunate manner as weapons, I regret my analogy on bats in my earlier post, and very much agree, this digression is best left out of this discussion further. Our discussion is on weapons used BY animals, not animals used AS weapons.

It is only fair that you regret it, Jim. Remember your previous post in this thread in which you concurred with criticisms on freewheeling ? Well, worse than that is, opening the door to ... badwheeling


.

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Old 28th November 2019, 04:00 PM   #159
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A tiny question: how were these swords tied to the trunks?
Unless we use tight belts, they will turn and hit the enemy not with the edge, but with the flat of the blade. And if we tie them very hard, the elephant will not be able to breathe.
Also, even forgetting the above limitation, human swordsman can deliberately adjust the axis of the blade to hit always with the edge. Elephant moves its trunk in all directions, and the likelihood of flat blow is many times higher than that with the edge.
Hope I explained it well:-((((

Tusk swords were used mainly for piercing, so it was not a problem.
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Old 28th November 2019, 04:27 PM   #160
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
A tiny question: how were these swords tied to the trunks?
Unless we use tight belts, they will turn and hit the enemy not with the edge, but with the flat of the blade. And if we tie them very hard, the elephant will not be able to breathe.
Also, human swordsman can deliberately adjust the axis of the blade to hit always with the edge. Elephant moves its trunk in all directions, and the likelihood of flat blow is many times higher than that with the edge.
Hope I explained it well:-((((

Tusk swords were used mainly for piercing, so it was not a problem.



Well, there you go Ariel, being rational!!!
As far as is known, there are no elephant fencing manuals, and my questioning the attaching of blades (even if termed swords) to elephant trunks was in line with the questions you pose here (and yes, VERY well explained).

I notice that the huge corpus of narratives and accounts describing 'swords' attached to the trunks of elephants leave out the key detail of how this was done as well as what these 'swords' looked like. In the miniature shown earlier it seems the elephant is 'holding' the sword with the trunk, rather than being attached. Then there is the account from Stone (1934) claiming 12 FOOT SWORDS were ATTACHED to the trunks!!!

If we are to take these impressions and accounts literally and seriously we must believe that the elephant has tremendous strength as well as dexterity in its trunk. I remain a bit skeptical on these images.

As you note, the tusks were a natural weapon on elephants so their use was in accord with instincts, and the caps with blades (termed swords) were a prosthetic extension over tusks apparently sawn off in captivity. On that note, perhaps the blades used with trunks were plow irons?
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Old 28th November 2019, 04:32 PM   #161
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
I stand corrected, thanks.


Donít feel bad: the above info was lifted verbatim from the Russian version of Wikipedia. The reliability of that source is limited, to put it mildly.


For example, the blurb here states that during the Kursk battle ( summer 1943) dogs destroyed 12 German tanks. But another reference ( not cited) mentions that already by 1942 the dogs for some reasons became less reliable and, instead of jumping under German tanks, preferred to go back to Russian positions, wrecking havoc there. As a result, their use was swiftly terminated. The only German description refers to an incident in October of 1941. And another reference from the Russian Wiki ( also not cited) avers that the entire program was not effective altogether.

The story about Luftwaffe hunting any dogs was taken from some Russian radio program, never documented, just like the use of flamethrowers.

Overall, donít feel sad and guilty: we are dealing with a cockamamie story.

The idea of using animals as suicide bombers was briefly revived at the end of 20th century: dolphins. The program was shut down anon.

On the other hand, there were well documented cases of patriotic Russian soldiers throwing themselves with explosive devices under German tanks. The only thing it proves is that Pavlovian brainwashing works better on humans than on dogs. Dogs seem to be smarter.

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Old 28th November 2019, 06:26 PM   #162
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Donít feel bad: the above info was lifted verbatim from the Russian version of Wikipedia. The reliability of that source is limited, to put it mildly.


I will be very grateful if you provide serious evidence that the Wikipedia article contains erroneous information.
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Old 29th November 2019, 01:41 AM   #163
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Yeah!!!! How bout them trunk swords!!!!!
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Old 29th November 2019, 04:34 AM   #164
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Well, there you go Ariel, being rational!!!



Jim, a sprinkle of rationality always enlivens a discussion:-)


My mentor during my fellowship years always taught me to conduct an experiment aimed at destroying my theory. Only if it failed was I allowed to publish a paper.

Regretfully, we cannot have a model of an elephant wielding a trunk sword and use it in testing our beliefs. But at the very least we are obligated to ask rational questions and expect rational answers. Thatís how inquiry is supposed to be conducted.
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Old 29th November 2019, 11:33 AM   #165
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Guys, where is the line, and how fine it is, that separates rationality from skepticism ? The worst blind is the one who doesn't want to see .


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Old 29th November 2019, 11:47 AM   #166
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
... And if we tie them very hard, the elephant will not be able to breathe...

Could they really choke them, despite all those thousands of trunk muscles ... So that they wouldn't be able to respire through their snorkel

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Old 29th November 2019, 12:22 PM   #167
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Jim, a sprinkle of rationality always enlivens a discussion:-)


My mentor during my fellowship years always taught me to conduct an experiment aimed at destroying my theory. Only if it failed was I allowed to publish a paper.

Regretfully, we cannot have a model of an elephant wielding a trunk sword and use it in testing our beliefs. But at the very least we are obligated to ask rational questions and expect rational answers. Thatís how inquiry is supposed to be conducted.



Excellent Ariel!!! Indeed it does, and the best part of our discussions here are the ratiocination well applied in examining the evidence shared in thread entries. That is the greatness of a good thread, exchange of information and ideas, and ultimately the revision of ideas and previously held views.

I admire what you clearly well learned in these applications in your education and it shows!

While I have not learned these methods in a formal setting, I feel that I have learned a great deal from you and others here in these discussions, and very much continue to do so constantly, I note with gratitude.

I have pretty much wavered in my positions from skepticism to acceptance of reasonable plausibility several times on various elements discussed here on these talking points, and certainly have much broader perspectives on the topic than I began with. I do hope those reading enjoy the same.

Fernando, excellent graphics!!! That really does convey the message.
I have always appreciated that well worn axiom, none so blind as those who will not see, and will share one of my favorites I have long observed.

"...discovery consists of seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought".

This axiom for me has been applicable not only in the instances where I was the one 'doing the seeing', but more often in the vision of others who have shared their 'eureka' moments with myself and others openly.

Thank you guys!
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Old 30th November 2019, 11:32 AM   #168
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Having posted the narwhal tusk in post 137, I note that one was used this week at the latest London Bridge attack by a knife weilding terrorist, where a chef at the nearby fish market grabbed a 5 ft. narwhal tusk off the wall to confront and pin the knifeman down, assisted by someone with a fire extinguisher until the police could deal with him.

Probably the only use of a spear in combat in recent history, and a tusk one at that! Sometimes reality IS stranger than fiction.
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Old 30th November 2019, 06:55 PM   #169
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Now thats amazing! Who says history is not alive and kickin.
Great share Wayne, and truly interesting ......I hope they dont outlaw narwhals now. After all, they have outlawed guns here in many degrees, but INCREDIBLY the crime and shootings continue. It would appear that criminals are not obeying the law

On that note, returning top elephant weaponry, I had this excerpt I forgot to include earlier:

"...even the best trained elephant was liable to be panicked by the sights, sounds and smells of battle, especially by incendiary devices, and might be joined by its companions, turn into a common enemy, trampling friend and foe alike.
From the 16th century, the use of gunpowder in battle made it considerably easier to bring down the animals, diminishing their effectiveness and bringing an end to their use on the battlefield. However they continued to be used for transportation and logistics in warfare right up to WWII."
Online: "The War Elephant in history"
Andrew Griffiths
In: Articles in History.com

Re: Fernandos note on the application of a sword to the snout, I agree they could still breath even if some constraint to the trunk was applied. There is still some plausibility of trunk 'swords' having been used in SOME fashion, as suggested in corroborating period accounts from varied sources observing them in real time.
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Old 1st December 2019, 11:00 AM   #170
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... There is still some plausibility of trunk 'swords' having been used in SOME fashion, as suggested in corroborating period accounts from varied sources observing them in real time.

However Jim, given the recurrent spicing poured into accounts, left to us by authors with imagination, and period paintings being not the same as photographs (and even those), we wind up swapping hypothesis in a loop mode.
On the other hand, it looks as if the increasing reach for peripheral resources, namely within the zoologic area (horses, dogs, bats, narwhals, foxes), is bringing this second thread chapter to compete with the Ark of Noah .
Until then ...
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Old 1st December 2019, 03:25 PM   #171
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Well said in your inimitable and intriguing manner Fernando!!! The 'spicing' of these accounts and the artwork which evolved in the same themes by imaginative and creative writers and artists have presented us with a challenging task, to break through these colorful veneers to find the truth.
Absolutely perfectly placed analogy to this chapter of the topic, which has indeed become reminiscent of Noah and his ark in degree in its zoologic periphery.

It has indeed been a lively and thought provoking discussion, and personally I think some great perspectives have been gained on this topic and the related situations with animals in warfare. Its always amazing what can be learned when thinking, and discussion, can move 'outside the box'!
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Old 3rd July 2020, 08:36 PM   #172
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The oldest mentioning of tusk blades was from Timur biography. Of his invasion of the Delhi Sultanates.
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Old 4th July 2020, 05:55 AM   #173
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Can you post the text and its source?
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Old 13th July 2020, 12:20 AM   #174
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I have some limited experience working with antique Indian & mammoth ivory and while it's very strong, it's also somewhat brittle. When ivory breaks, the cracks can chip & spread like a split log. I assume a elephant tusk broken close to the root would be as painful as a broken tooth is to a human.

In the scenario where tusks are being used as a weapon, the illustrations that show them blunted with metal caps & bands makes the most sense for me, since it would protect the tip from damage & the bands stop splitting. Blades on the ends of caps, while intimidating, could be big levers that would risk breaking the tusk in use. I wouldn't want to ride on top of an frenzied elephant with a toothache & my hypothesis is the bands/caps are to protect the tusks while they're used as bludgeons, and the rarity of tusk swords implies they were tried but abandoned outside parades.
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Old 14th July 2020, 12:09 AM   #175
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Welcome to the Forum, rysays, and thanks for these comments.
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Old 14th July 2020, 03:48 AM   #176
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rysays
...it's also somewhat brittle. When ivory breaks, the cracks can chip & spread like a split log.


When I was stationed in Alaska, I bought a small Walrus Ivory Polar Bear carving from an Aleut. After a few decades, it started cracking. I soaked it in mineral oil, which was the recommendation back then, to stop it from further cracks. Oiling your elephant's tusks might help, if they let you.
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Old 19th July 2020, 10:53 PM   #177
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Chinese monk account of sword attachments to the trunk. Artist representation of the same from Gandhara, 1st-2nd+ Century AD.
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Old 20th July 2020, 04:51 PM   #178
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Most interesting, Milogow360. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 20th July 2020, 06:38 PM   #179
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A bas-relief from the Borobudur temple complex
https://sillynewsboy.wordpress.com/...story/#more-839
Thanks to A. G. Maisey
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Old 20th July 2020, 06:51 PM   #180
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After all ... not so rare !!!
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