“Makara”, an Indian religious image similar to the Capricorn of the western zodiac, once played a supplementary role in the elaboration of doctrine, and its metaphorical image was understood accordingly. With the decline in religious observance and continuity, religious art has waned, and in the absence of accompanying original textual explanations for such images, some religious images have gradually lost their symbolic function. Nonetheless, a large number of images of ancient makara remain, providing historical testimony. These makara provide an important basis for the author's efforts to discover their original meanings.
When tracing the origins of makara, the author found that the makara of Indian religious art has a profound kinship with the Capricorn of the Western zodiac, which originated in the ancient civilizations of western Asia. In this article, the author attempts to find makara's traces starting in the distant Babylonian civilization, to identify its meaning and expression in Indian religious art in India, leading to further analysis of the style and performance of makara art in Buddhism and Hinduism. The makara's (Capricorn's) outward spread provides a non-textural illustration of ancient cultural communication.
Many previous scholars' discussions of artistic expressions of the makara are limited to the decoration alone. There were some few discussions of makara in the Vedas and the Epics, as well as in Buddhist scripture. Through other elements related to, and interacting with, makara in art, including gods, plants and so on, or the key position in the building where a makara is located, the author, through an analysis of the makara's evolving shape and role in religious art, tries to fill in some of what is missing from the existing literature.