49. One unicorn horn or two?

Large unicorn seal found on the floor of a room in Harappa in 1999.

Is it a bull (according to a recent British Museum/BBC history of the World series) and not a unicorn? A bull with two horns always shown from the side? A mythical one-horn beast? What is his significance? Submitted by Gharial Abramnova from school student questions

Asko Parpola
I think the Indus people have adopted the image of a 'unicorn' bull from ancient Mesopotamia. It very probably had phallic symbolism assumed to promote fertility, as is the case with the one-tusked wild boar, in the shape of which god Vishnu "wounds" Goddess Earth while lifting her up from the bottom of waters. In this Hindu myth, the single tusk of the boar symbolizes the "one-toothed" plough. Cf. pp. 264-266 in my paper "Savitri and resurrection" (Studia Orientalia 84, 1998, 167-312).