Why Are There Engravings of a Donkey Fucking Someone’s Mother in India?

These medieval Indian stones haven’t really been studied properly.

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Jul 13 2018, 5:00am

Most archaeologists shied away from studying gadhegals because they were considered to be too 'vulgar'. Image: Harshada Wirkud.

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According to archaeologists, there are more than 200 gadhegals (ass curse) stones scattered across India. There are approximately 150 of them in Maharashtra alone. These unique stones have engravings of a donkey fucking a woman. And it is only recently (since 2012) that a few historians have showed any interest in unravelling this part of medieval Indian history.

These stone slabs are a unique kind of ‘land grant stones’ that were reportedly introduced in Maharashtra during the reign of the Silaharas. The Silaharas gave donations of land (or house or money) to Brahmins and their temples in lieu of their services. The stones were declarations of the grants and the engravings of the donkey-fucking-a-woman represented a curse for anyone who violated the order.

Dr Kurush Dalal, who teaches at Mumbai University’s Centre for Archeology and extra-Mural studies told VICE India over the phone, “Most archaeologists shied away from studying these stones because they were vulgar.” The donkey, in India, is also considered unholy and is often associated with garbage and dirt.

In some ‘ass curse’ stones, sometimes the donor’s wife or he himself is threatened by the same fate. Image: Harshada Wirkud.

So why did the Silaharas use this humiliating imagery in the first place? Harshada Wirkul, who studied gadhegals for her PhD tells us, “Earlier, there used to be copper plates that were used as declarations of grants by kings. But why this changed to stones and inscriptions and pictorial depictions of the curse is not known.” She also mentions that gadhegals have been found in Gujarat, Goa, Orissa, Bihar and Bengal too.

The gadhegals usually have three divisions or panels, as the archaeologists explain. The sun and the moon panel, which Dalal explains as Yavat Chandra Divakaro (till the sun and the moon exist). The information given on the slab and the reign of the ruler is supposed to last that long. The second panel is the grant and imprecatory verse panel “that mentions the nature of the grant, the exemptions obtained by the beneficiary/ies and details the name of the donor and the donee." This panel ends with imprecatory verses “which state that the person who doesn’t follow or hold in good stead what is written on the stone will be cursed and his mother will be forced to copulate with a donkey (or with a horse as per a few inscriptions).”

Dalal adds, “In some ‘ass curse’ stones, sometimes the donor’s wife or he himself is threatened by the same fate.” And sometimes the person is cursed with having bowels laced with pinworms. And if that isn’t enough, in some gadhegal archaeologists have found that the man is called a dog or a donkey.

There are some engravings that are of donkeys fucking donkeys or even a donkey fucking a pig. Image: Harshada Wirkud.

The third and last panel is a pictorial representation that depicts a woman being sodomized/anally fucked by a donkey.

In the research paper that Dalal wrote with others, he mentions RC Dhere, an archaeologist who he says had a “very interesting theory” about gadhegals in 1990. Dhere equated women with “Mother Earth”, saying that a donkey “mounting the mother” would mean making it barren. That means if the person doesn’t follow the rules, the land, according to Dhere, will turn barren.

Wirkud however disagrees, “I have seen gadhegals with a donkey fucking a donkey or a donkey fucking a pig. It is that women have always been objectified. (On the stones) the curse says that the mother or wife of the man will be despoiled if the man doesn’t agree to the terms mentioned. The curse mentions that the woman would be (fucked) by the donkey. Not the man himself. Dhere was wrong in pointing out that the woman in the stones was the Mother Earth. Even in that case it means a donkey’s penis is the plow and the Mother Earth will have an offspring that will be a donkey or she won’t conceive at all."

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This article originally appeared on VICE IN.

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