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Pandanus is a biannual peer-reviewed international journal publishing original research papers in English on nature symbolism in Literature, Art, Myth and Ritual. It has a regional focus on South Asia but welcomes papers from other regions. The journal is the outcome of the Pandanus project, based at the Institute of South and Central Asian Studies, Seminar of Indian Studies, Philosophical Faculty, Charles University in Prague. Pandanus volumes started coming out in 1998 on an annual basis as a result of co-operation between three Universities ... please click here to read the full text of Pandanus Mission Statement.

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Pandanus ’02: Nature in Indian Literatures and Art.
Edited by J. Vacek and Hana Preinhaelterová.
Charles University, Faculty of Arts; Signeta, Praha 2002, 188 pp.
ISBN 80-902608-6-1

Contributions to the Pandanus ’02 International Workshop - Nature in Indian Literatures and Art, May 24-25, 2002, Charles University, Faculty of Arts, Institute of Indian Studies, Prague.

Dedicated to the memory of Prof. Dr. Bernhard Kölver


  • Jaroslav Vacek - Preface
  • Adalbert J. Gail - Remembering Prof. Bernhard Kölver
  • Alexandr Dubianski: The themes of uvijai and nocci in classical Tamil poetry
  • Adalbert J. Gail: The language of flowers in early Buddhist art
  • Martin Hříbek: Function of plants in puja rituals
  • Siegfried Lienhard: 'Blood' and 'Lac'. On Skt. rakta / lakta and related lexemes denoting redness
  • Hana Nováková: Nature in the folk tradition of tribes in Bengal
  • Cinzia Pieruccini: Epic Landscapes: Descriptions of Forests in the Mahabharata
  • Hana Preinhaelterová: The Cow in Bengali Proverbs and Sayings - a Sacred Being or a Utility Animal?
  • Daniela Rossella: Natural images in Jagannatha's Bhaminivilasa
  • Jaroslav Vacek: Old Tamil literary formulae connected with mullai (attributive phrases)
  • Eva Wilden: Anthropomorphic nature: the symbolic code of Akam poetry


This is another in the Pandanus series, which we have dedicated to the memory of Prof. Bernhard Kölver, who passed away last year. Prof. Kölver was at the beginning of the project, we discussed the problem of nature in Indian literatures with him several times in the early 1990s and ultimately in the middle of the 1990s I decided to prepare a project on the topic. Prof. Kölver was also instrumental in making contacts with colleagues in Milano and this is how the first Pandanus appeared in 1998. In the meantime the subject attracted several other colleagues from all over Europe and interest in the subject seems to grow also among colleagues of other fields of study. Thus I feel that in this symbolical manner Prof. Kölver should always be present in this project, which he inspired by his friendly and mild words almost a decade ago.

This volume includes papers dealing with various aspects of nature. Most of them were red at a seminar in Prague in the end of May 2002. For the most part, the authors have already contributed to the earlier volumes and they either continue in their topics or further elaborate problems related with them.

Traditionally, there are several papers dealing with Sanskrit and its literature partly devoted to flora, its products and also to fauna. The interpretation of Skt. rakta/lakta by S. Lienhard deals with various aspects of semantic shifts of these etyma in the context of Sanskrit and also Prakrit texts. A systematic treatment of the description of forests in the Mahabharata is offered by C. Pieruccini, which actually includes both the plants and animals encountered there. D. Rossella's is more an essay on the functioning of natural images in Jagannatha, which, however, can be used for further comparison.

One paper by A. Gail deals with nature in classical Indian art. This is an innovation in our topics, which we consider to be a useful extension in the context of 'symbolical reflection of nature' in Indian literatures. It will be seen to what extent the general semiotic processes are analogical, when and if we have enough material to attempt a synthesis of the more or less narrowly defined topics.

Then there are three papers dealing with aspects of the Bengali folklore and ritual as reflecting the relation to nature, both flora and fauna. One aspect, viz. nature as reflected in the ritual, discussed by M. Hříbek, is seen from the ethnological point of view. It is an extension in another direction, which will, I am sure, bring not only interesting results in itself, but will also enrich the general picture of the forms of Indian reflection of nature. H. Preinhaelterová shows how the sacred animal of India, the cow, is depicted in Bengali proverbs. It is a rather significant topic, which could perhaps be further pursued with profit, because proverbs may be taken as a mirror reflecting unwittingly the attitudes of a particular community towards a certain phenomenon, be it part of culture or nature. Another aspect of folklore reflection of nature is discussed by H. Nováková from the point of view of the Adivasis in Bengal. It will be seen that the topic can also contribute to our better understanding of aspects of the 'high' literary tradition.

Traditionally we also have contributions on Tamil Sangam dealing with nature through the eyes of the Old Tamil poetic canon and its metaphorical forms of expression. Understanding this aspect of Indian literary tradition can also have consequences for the understanding of other genres, particularly of literature written in Sanskrit and Prakrit. A. Dubianski discusses the problem of interpretation and of mutual relation of two Puqam tinais and besides giving interesting proposals for the explanation of the symbolical meaning of these genres, he also shows to what extent the traditional interpretations can be mutually conflicting. E. Wilden attempts to explain the general picture of the Sangam symbolical code, which has become something like a classical example of how nature can be used as a complex form of expression on the symbolical level. J. Vacek's paper provides a survey of complex formulas appearing in the attributive position with mullai (jasmine) in Sangam.

We offer the volume to the Indological public and hope that it will be accepted as another step on the way to a better understanding of the codes, their form and their semiotics, hidden not only in the literary works, but also in the art, folklore and ritual of classical and modern India.

Jaroslav Vacek

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