Elephant Goad

The elephant goad or Aṅkuśa (Sanskrit) is a tool employed in the handling and training of elephants, the largest land animals. It consists of a hook (usually bronze or steel) which is attached to a 60 – 90 cm (two- or three-foot) handle. The hook is inserted into the elephant's sensitive skin, either slightly or more deeply, to cause pain and induce the elephant to behave in a certain manner.

A relief at Sanchi and a fresco at the Ajanta Caves depict a three person crew on the war elephant, the driver with an elephant goad, what appears to be a noble warrior behind the driver and another attendant on the posterior of the elephant. Nossov and Dennis (2008: p. 19) report that two elephant goads, perfectly preserved were recovered from an archaeological site at Taxila and are dated from 3rd century BCE to the 1st century CE according to Marshall. The larger of the two is 65 cm long.

Nossov and Dennis (2008: p. 16) state:

An ankusha, a sharpened goad with a pointed hook, was the main tool for managing an elephant. The ankusha first appeared in India in the 6th-5th century BC and has been used ever since, not only there, but wherever elephants served man.

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