AskDefine | Define mahout

Dictionary Definition

mahout n : the driver and keeper of an elephant

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

Hindi mahāut < Sanskrit mahāmātra "high official" < mahā "great" + mātra "measure"]

Noun

  1. an elephant driver and keeper

Translations

Extensive Definition

A mahout is a person who drives an elephant. The word mahout comes from the Hindi words mahaut and mahavat, derivatives of the Sanskrit word mahamatra, meaning "[one] having great measure."
Another term for mahout is cornac (as in French, from the Portuguese; kornak in Dutch and Polish, also a rather current last name). In Tamil, the word used is "pahan", which means elephant keeper, and in Sinhalese kurawanayaka ('stable master').
In Burma (Myanmar) the profession is called oozie, and in Thailand (Siam) kao-chang.

Description

Usually, a mahout starts as a boy in the 'family business' when he is assigned an elephant early in its life and they would be attached to each other throughout the elephant's life.
The most common tool used by mahouts is a goad called anlius, or ankusha - a sharp hook used to guide a tamed elephant by prodding on the back of its head.
Sanskrit language distinguishes three types: Reghawaan, who use love to control their elephants, Yuktimaan, who use ingenuity to outsmart them and Balwaan, those who control elephants with strength and cruelty.
The job is described in detail in the on-line Mahout manual.

See also

Sources and references

mahout in German: Mahut
mahout in French: Mahout
mahout in Lithuanian: Mahoutas
mahout in Norwegian: Elefantfører
mahout in Polish: Kornak
mahout in Simple English: Mahout
mahout in Swedish: Mahout
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