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onager

onager (ŏn´əjər) or Persian wild ass, wild ass of central Asia, Equus hemonius onager. One of the several races of Asian wild ass (E. hemonius), it formerly ranged widely across S Russia, Iran, and Afghanistan. A small, slenderly built animal, it stands about 4 ft (120 cm) high at the shoulder. Its back and legs are rusty brown and its belly white. It has a black tail tuft, a short, stiff black mane, and a black spinal stripe lined with white on either side. For many centuries it was hunted for sport by the Persian nobility, and young onagers were captured for the breeding of riding animals. Owing to the swiftness and endurance of the onager, relatively few animals were captured by traditional methods. However, since the invention of modern firearms and automobiles, the animals have been extensively slaughtered for their flesh and hides. They survive in Russia only on the Badkhys reserve and are greatly reduced in numbers elsewhere. The continued existence of the race is in doubt. The onager is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Perissodactyla, family Equidae.

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onager

onager Fast-running animal related to the ass, found in semi-desert areas of Iran and India. The onager is dun-coloured with a dorsal stripe that reaches the tip of the tail. Height at the shoulder: 0.9–1.5m (2.9–4.9ft). Family Equidae; species Equus hemionus onager.

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onager

on·a·ger / ˈänəjər/ • n. an animal of a race of the Asian wild ass (Equus hemionus onager) native to northern Iran.

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onager

onager wild ass. XIV (afterwards not before XVIII). — L. — Gr. ónagros for ónos ágrios (ónos ass, ágrios wild).

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onager

onagerbludger, grudger, nudger, trudger •indulger •blunger, conjure, expunger, plunger, sponger •astrologer, mythologer •tanager • onager • massager • potager •merger, perjure, purger, scourger, urger, verdure, verger

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Onager

ONAGER

ONAGER (Heb. פֶּרֶא, Wild Ass; Job 39:5, also עָרוֹד). Two sub-species of the wild ass, the Equus hemionus hemihippus, the Syrian onager, and the Equus hemionus onager, the Arabian onager, existed in the Syrian desert up to the present century. The onager is described as loving freedom (Jer. 2:24) and fearless (Job 39:5–8). Its habitat is in waste places (Isa. 32:44 and Job 39:6), and Ishmael who was to dwell in the desert is called a wild ass of a man (Gen. 16:12). It appears that from time to time efforts were made to domesticate the wild ass. An ancient Sumerian picture shows it harnessed to a wagon, and the Tosefta (Kil. 5:5) forbids the yoking of an ass with an onager. It was sometimes employed for turning millstones (Av. Zar. 16b). It would appear that the wild ass flourished in the talmudic period, and its flesh was used to feed animals in the arena (Men. 103b). In Babylon fields were fenced in to prevent the onagers from doing damage (bb 36a).

bibliography:

Y. Aharoni, Torat ha-Ḥai, 1 (1923), 99–101; Lewysohn, Zool, 143; J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 29–30. add. bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 264.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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