ayas अयस्

Definition: The exact metal denoted by this word when used byitself, as always in the Rigveda, is uncertain. As favouring the sense of ‘ bronze ’ rather than that of ‘ iron ’ may perhaps be cited with Zimmer the fact that Agni is called ayo-damstra,‘with teeth of Ayas,’with reference to the colour of his flames, and that the car-seat of Mitra and Varuna is called ayah-sthūna, ‘with pillars of Ayas ’ at the setting of the sun. Moreover, in the Vājasaneyi Samhitā, Ayas is enumerated in a list of six metals: gold (hiranya), Ayas, Syāma, Loha, lead (sīsa), tin (trapu). Here śyāma (‘ swarthy ’) and loha (‘ red ’) must mean ‘iron’ and ‘copper’ respectively; ayas would therefore seem to mean ‘bronze.’ In many passages in the Atharvaveda and other books, the Ayas is divided into two species—the śyāma (* iron ’) and the lohita (‘ copper’ or * bronze ’). In the Satapatha Brāhmana a distinction is drawn between Ayas and lohāyasa, which may either be a distinction between iron and copper as understood by Eggeling, or between copper and bronze as held by Schrader. In one passage of the Atharvaveda, the sense of iron seems certain. Possibly, too, the arrow of the Rigveda, which had a tip of Ayas (yasyā ayo mukham), was pointed with iron. Copper, however, is conceivable, and bronze quite likely. Iron is called śyāma ayas or śyāma alone. See also Kārsnāyasa. Copper is Lohāyasa or Lohitāyasa. The smelting (dhmā ‘ to blow ’) of the metal is frequently referred to. The Satapatha Brāhmana states that if ‘ well smelted ’ (bahu-dhmātam) it is like gold, referring evidently to bronze. A heater of Ayas is mentioned in the Vājasaneyi Samhitā, and bowls of Ayas are also spoken of.


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