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Re: maize in ancient India: transpacific links (cont.)

 JR Bauer writes, RE the Johannessen and Parker article 
in Economic Botany (1989, 164-80) about pre-Columbian 
maize in Hoysala sculptures in Karnataka, India:

>If they had corn in India, why didn't they continue to grow it?

According to J&P critics Payak and Sachan (EB 1993 202-5), 
when the All India Coordinated Maize Improvement Project
tried to introduce the double top cross maize hybrid GANGA-5
into Karnataka in the late 1960's, it was found to be highly 
susceptible to Sorghum Downy Mildew (Peronosclerospora

My hunch is that maize prospered for several decades, or 
even a couple of centuries, during the Hoysala period in the 
12th and 13th C AD, whence the sculptures, but then this 
mildew, or some similar blight or smut was introduced from
outside, and wiped out the maize strains that were in cultivation
in Karnataka. 

I am told that maize will not fertilize itself unless it is manually 
planted in close stands (because of its unusually heavy pollen), 
and that therefore it cannot survive beyond one generation in the 
wild.   So if cultivation stopped because of a blight, it would have 
become quickly extinct.  Some  hardier, but less abundant strains 
may have survived in northern India/Tibet, but that's another story.

P&S say, following Prof. Prabhu Shanker of the Dept. of Ancient 
History and Archaeology, U. of Mysore, that the Hoysala sculptures
are not maize, but "Muktaphala - a fruit made of pearls - very commonly
in many icons."   I am told that Muktaphala literally means pearl-fruit.
If one were to make up a name for maize, pearl-fruit would be 
as good as any.  So why can't Muktaphala just be the ancient 
name for maize, once a real crop and then later, after it was 
abandoned, a legendary "fruit" that continued to appear, in decreasingly 
accurate detail, in icons?  The Hoysala sculptures are quite 
accurate depictions of maize ears, and could only have been made
from actual specimens, as J&P point out.  Elsewhere, "Muktaphala" 
may well have become stylized to the point of unrecognizability.

Please note that I have added soc.culture.indian to this thread.

-- Hu McCulloch
   Econ Dept
   Ohio State U


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