You are here

Winged Stallions and Wicked Mares

Horses in Indian Myth and History
Wendy Doniger

BUY Cloth · 300 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813945750 · $35.00 · Apr 2021
BUY Ebook · 300 pp. · ISBN 9780813945767 · $27.00 · Apr 2021

Horses are not indigenous to India. They had to be imported, making them expensive and elite animals. How then did Indian villagers—who could not afford horses and often had never even seen a horse—create such wonderful horse stories and brilliant visual images of horses? In Winged Stallions and Wicked Mares, Wendy Doniger, called "the greatest living mythologist," examines the horse’s significance throughout Indian history from the arrival of the Indo-Europeans, followed by the people who became the Mughals (who imported Arabian horses) and the British (who imported thoroughbreds and Walers). Along the way, we encounter the tensions between Hindu stallion and Arab mare traditions, the imposition of European standards on Indian breeds, the reasons why men ride mares to weddings, the motivations for murdering Dalits who ride horses, and the enduring myth of foreign horses who emerge from the ocean to fertilize native mares.


Every time Doniger discusses anything at all, she beautifully tosses in the whole world. She treats it all with subtle wit, broad comedy, and analytical brilliance.

Annie Dillard · Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Like Doniger’s other works on mythology and history, Winged Stallions and Wicked Mares is astonishingly accomplished in the weaving of mythical narratives into a meaningful depiction of the Indian imagination. But the book is clearly also a work of love by a scholar who has spent most of her life in psychic connection with horses.

Ariel Glucklich, Georgetown University · The Strides of Vishnu: Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective

Doniger’s ride through four millennia of Indian legend and folklore is full of sacrificial horses, horse-headed gods, transformations and couplings.

Asian Review of Books

Interested in this topic?
Stay updated with our newsletters:

Related Books