By Adam Cruise
We have been incorporating elephants into our lives since humans first became…well…humans.
The earliest known San rock paintings depict elephants, so do the cave paintings throughout Asia and Europe.
There are some 75 000 prehistoric sites worldwide depicting elephants. The ‘primitives’ believed animals were people but that they represented the best and noblest of human traits.
To them elephants, (as we believe even to this day) symbolised strength, intelligence and loyalty. They were incorporated into belief systems as benevolent deities, an early human behaviour that still manifests in most religions today.
Hinduism and Buddhism are the two beliefs most associated with elephants. Asian elephants are represented at the moment of Creation when Indra, the Lord of the Universe, rides into the world on the back of an elephant named Airvaya.
Then there is the arrival of the corpulent elephant-god Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and one of the most popular of all the Hindu deities.
Following on from the tradition of the San, almost all Sub-Saharan African cultures have too embraced the elephant as a significant and important symbol of their cultural and religious fabric. More....