Tracing the Flight of Karnataka’s Eagle

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As symbols go, the official insignia of the Karnataka State Government, the Gandaberunda or double-headed eagle has the most interesting story and history. Seen everywhere in Karnataka, from the state transport buses to the university and even the Bengaluru football club, what is amazing is that this symbol that was also used by both the Wodeyars of Mysore and the powerful Vijayanagara rulers, goes back 4000 years and has fabulous linkages!
The oldest known representation of the double-headed eagle was found on a clay cylinder found in the ancient Mesopotamian city of Lagash, in present-day Iraq, dating back to late 3rd millennium BCE. It represented Mesopotamian god Ningirsu, the patron deity of the city of Lagash. More than 1000 years later, the symbol made a reappearance, as it was adopted by Hittites who ruled over Anatolia in Turkey around 1600 BCE. The symbol graced many of their buildings, sculptures, and pottery. The most striking Hittite double-headed eagle was found on the main gate of the ancient city of Alaca Höyük, in Turkey, and is perhaps the closest, to Karnataka’s own Gandaberunda.

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