the-south-asian.com FEBRUARY 2002
FEBRUARY 2002 Contents
'My Secret of
at Every Alien Door'
Fashion & Jewellery
Page 1 of 5
The South Asian MANGO
- The Fruit of Kings & the King of Fruits
The Mango fruit tree’s botanical name is "Mangifera Indica" - the Latin botanical name indicates its origin - India .The original root name was the Tamil word "mangay"; in Chinese it is "Mang-two" ; [incidentally in London’s China town Sunday market I learnt that Moo-Li was Chinese for the south Asian mooli/radish; ]. According to Frederick Noronha, "No tree in history (of India) has been given as many names as the mango tree – it has been called Vasantaduta (messenger of Spring), Madhuduta (messenger of fragrance), Kamang ( embodiment of Cupid), Kokilavasa (abode of cuckoos), and Kamavallabha ( the amorous)."
The Mango has been around 4000 years and is related surprisingly to the cashew and pistachio nut. It is a unique fruit that sets apart the South Asian regions from the rest of the mango growing regions of the world - where the mango got transplanted from India. The mango was taken to Brazil by the Portuguese and by Indians to the Far East. An entire history and culture revolves around the mango going back thousands of years during Buddha’s times. The story of mangoes is as complex and captivating as the mango tree itself, which produces fruit every season.
Mango groves have been a place of solace for Buddha’s meditation. The mango tree is carved on the Sanchi stupa [150 B.C] . Amrapali, after whom a mango is also named, was a beautiful dancer and courtesan from Vaishali [ near Patna, Bihar] in Buddha’s time [ 600 B.C.] . She offered Buddha a mango orchard and, impressed by his teachings, became a nun [ bhikshu]. Buddha was born near a mango grove at Lumbini [563 B.C] . At Nalanda University [ considered one of the largest in the world with 6 million books ] there was a mango grove called Pavarika, which was Buddha’s favorite place. The Mango grove at Jivaka called Amravana was the pharmacy of Jivak the physician of the king of Magadha where Buddha is said to have come for treatment.
Mango blossoms are used in the worship of Saraswati, the goddess of learning. Mangoes are also considered in India to be a symbol of life. In everyday life in India even to this day mango leaves are used to decorate the archways of the house when a wedding occurs or when a new house is constructed. Mango leaves are also used as decoration in celebrating the festivals of Ganesh Chathurthi and Vasant Panchami.
The European weaving industry’s oldest pattern – the ‘paisley’ - was copied from the Kashmiri shawls of the 15th. century. At the end of the 18th century, Kashmiri shawls with the mango motif were imported into Europe by the famous East India company. Initially scarce and very expensive, they were copied and sold as imitation Indian. In Britain, craftsmen from Spitalfield , Norwich and Edinburgh started producing cheaper imitations in silk by 1780 .Later they were produced by the Scottish town Paisley in greater numbers, thanks to the Frenchman’s Jacquard loom, which automated weaving. Vienna too joined in this paisley shawl production craze in early 19th century.
Mango in Art
Mango trees were painted in detail by the Kangra miniature school in India. There are a couple of well known paintings by the French Impressionist Paul Gauguin who had gone and settled to paint in Tahiti.
Photo source:-goloka.com-Copyright New Delhi Museum
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