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Old 26-Oct-12, 16:08
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Default Mixed wrestling in ancient times

I was not sure whether to put this thread under discussion or Art section. I am posting it under discussion section cause I would like to hear from other members from other countries if anything like this has happened anywhere else also.

I saw a thread on Italian mixed wrestling art depicting the victory of Florence. The sculpture was a piece brilliant imagination by the artist. But then I remembered that something like this actually had happened in India in 1444 AD. The incident was so famous at that time that it was immortalised in sculpture.

Tradition of female wrestling in India has been documented from ancient times. Not only local texts but foreign travelers accounts also have corroborated this. The first recounting is from Mauryan Empire (322-185 BC), after the defeat of Selucas the general of Alexander the great by the Maurya's peace was established and ambassadors were exchanged. One such ambassador Megasthenes has corroborated of female wrestlers along with local references.


The story I referred to is of Harika or Hariyaka. She was a renowned female wrestler and came from a illustrious family of wrestler and her father and grandfather were both champions in the empire. Now one day another champion wrestler came and challenged her father. In the ensuing contest Madigauda the father of Hariyaka was defeated and killed. Now the challenge was extended to other wrestlers of Shikaripura town (Presently under Shimoga district, Karnataka, India). As no one was capable enough to face this wrestler Hariyaka being a champion on her own right decided to take on the challenge to salvage the her family and towns honour. So in 1444 AD a wrestling match took place between a male and female wrestlers. Hariyaka not only defeated her male opponent but also killed him to avenge her father. There is a statue and inscription till date commemorating the event.

Here is a link to an article by a renowned historian on this topic.

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There are reports both in local texts, temple architecture of female wrestlers and European travelers corroborating presence of female wrestlers during sports festivals in the empire. Vijaynagar fell to muslim armies in 1646 and there are no other record of any mixed contests till recent times.

After Islamic conquest of most if India female wrestlers seem to have disappeared from public eyes in India. But there are records of Mughal Empire employing trained female guards. The Nawab of Hyderabad seem to have deployed a regiment of female soldiers who performed creditably during Maratha wars.

There are other temple sculpture of female soldiers in battle in different Indian temple I will upload photos as i find them.

Would like to hear about similiar accounts, myths and stories about other male vs female contests from other parts of the worlds also. If anyone know any such facts kindly share. I have heard of two or three more such accounts in Asia let me investigate and come back with them.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Indian women wrestling sculpture.jpg (116.8 KB, 234 views)
File Type: jpg Warrior women in India.jpg (225.2 KB, 187 views)
File Type: jpg Hariaka defeating and killing her male opponent.jpg (16.5 KB, 182 views)
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