reply to post by grey580
I don't know about the Mayan sculpture in your right-hand picture – it does look very like an elephant – but the Balinese sculpture in the
left-hand picture does not
portray an elephant. It is a makara
, a mythical
aquatic creature with auspicious associations. The makara
is a common decoration around gateways and entrances all over the Hindu-Buddhist
world; there are countless examples in my own country, some ancient, some modern. The makara
is sometimes shown with an elephant-like head,
sometimes with a crocodile's or stag's head, most often with a fanciful 'monster' head.
I looked at the page in your link. As displayed there, the visual similarities between Mayan and Balinese religious art are very striking. There is,
however, a problem. According to Wikipedia, most of these Maya structures were built between about 250AD and 1000AD. The Balinese structures, however,
are of much more recent origin, later than 1000AD, and they portray Hindu deities and symbols whose place of cultural origin is India. There are
stylistic differences between Balinese and Indian portrayals of these deities, but if you know the iconography it is a trivial matter to identify a
or other image, and discern its Hindu origins.
So what does it all mean? Since the Maya ruins are older than the Balinese ones, does it mean there was cultural transmission across the Pacific
from East to West
? Did the Mayans settle Bali? It seems rather unlikely, since the drift of Austronesian settlement was in the opposite
direction, and occurred thousands or tens of thousands of years earlier. And are we supposed to believe that Hinduism originated in South America?
Things that look like one another aren't necessarily related – consider, for instance, sharks and dolphins. Perhaps there is less to these
congruencies than meets the eye.
edit on 7/1/13 by Astyanax because: there was more to say.