My friend, [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Prasanna](http://plus.google.com/113751702116021209889/posts) brought this gift from India for me. It’s a wooden replica of one of the [Lion Pillars of Ashoka](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillars_of_Ashoka). The first fact that surprised and delighted me is that there are Lions in India. I had always assumed that Lions were unique to Africa[^3] and that Asia was the domain of the Tiger. I learned from Prasanna ( and the Interwebs ) that the [Asian Lion](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asiatic_lion) may not get as much press as the African Lion but is near extinction but still exists in the state of Gujurat.
[^3]: The Cougar or Mountain Lion of the America’s is more genetically related to domestic cats than to African lions.
The Gir National Park and Sanctuary in Western Gujarat is the only habitat for the Asiatic lion where an area of 1,412.1 km2 (545.2 sq mi) was declared as a sanctuary for their conservation in 1965. Later, a national park covering an area of 258.71 km2 (99.89 sq mi) was established where no human activity is allowed. In the surrounding sanctuary only Maldharis have the right to graze their livestock.Wikipedia
I’m very thankful for Prasanna for this gift. He was travelling around India for a month with his family — his wife, parents, and two little girls who are still in diapers. His suitcases were full of items that his family would need for the entire month — the aforementioned diapers, wipes, medicines, food etc — gifts for family and friends. Yet … he someone found the time and space in his suitcase to bring me back this wonderful gift. I’m not sure a simple ‘Thank You’ suffices but … thank you for thinking of me.
The Lion capital of Ashoka is a sculpture of four “Indian lions” standing back to back. It was originally placed atop the Ashoka pillar at Sarnath, now in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India by Emperor Ashoka c. 250 BCE. The pillar, sometimes called the A?oka Column is still in its original location, but the Lion Capital is now in the Sarnath Museum. This Lion Capital of Ashoka from Sarnath was adopted as the National Emblem of India in 1950. The wheel “Ashoka Chakra The capital contains four lions (Indian/Asiatic Lions), standing back to back, mounted on an abacus, with a frieze carrying sculptures in high relief of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull and a lion, separated by intervening spoked chariot-wheels over a bell-shaped lotus. Carved out of a single block of polished sandstone, the capital was believed to be crowned by a ‘Wheel of Dharma’ (Dharmachakra popularly known in India as the “Ashoka Chakra”), which has now been lost. Wikipedia
* Camera: Nikon D40[^2]
* Lighting: Two Paul C. Buff [AlienBees™ B800 Flash Units](http://www.paulcbuff.com/b800.php) with [Soft Silver PLM™ Umbrellas](http://www.paulcbuff.com/plm-softsilver.php), [Gary Fong Puffer Pop-Up Flash Diffuser](http://www.garyfongestore.com/puffer-pop-up-flash-diffuser.html#.UQkucR11zL8)[^1]
* Lens: [AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR](http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Nikon-Products/Product/Camera-Lenses/2176/AF-S-DX-NIKKOR-18-55mm-f%252F3.5-5.6G-VR.html)
[^1]: I used the Puffer as both a front fill flash and to trigger the AB800s.
[^2]: I want to buy a new camera body but I am torn between staying in the Nikon family or getting [something more compact and stylish](http://www.fujifilmusa.com/products/digital_cameras/x/fujifilm_x_pro1/).[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]