AskDefine | Define onager

Dictionary Definition



1 medieval artillery used during sieges; a heavy war engine for hurling large stones and other missiles [syn: catapult, arbalest, arbalist, ballista, bricole, mangonel, trebuchet, trebucket]
2 Asiatic wild ass [syn: Equus hemionus] [also: onagri (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



onager (plural onagers or onagri)
  1. A military engine acting like a sling, which threw stones from a bag or wooden bucket, and was operated by machinery.
  2. A wild ass, especially the koulan.



onager, -agri
  1. a wild ass

Extensive Definition

The Onager (Equus hemionus) is a large mammal belonging to the horse family and native to the deserts of Syria, Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel, and Tibet. It is sometimes known as the Asian Wild Ass.
Like many other large grazing animals, its range has contracted greatly under the pressures of hunting and habitat loss, and of the six subspecies, one is extinct and two endangered. The Kiang (E. kiang), a Tibetan relative, was previously considered to be a subspecies of the Onager as E. hemionus kiang, but recent molecular studies indicate that it is a distinct species.
Onagers are a little larger than donkeys at about 290 kg and 2.1 metres (head-body length), and are a little more horse-like. They are short-legged compared to horses, and their coloring varies depending on the season. They are generally reddish-brown in color during the summer, becoming yellowish-brown in the winter months. They have a black stripe bordered in white that extends down the middle of the back. They are notoriously untameable. Equids were used in ancient Sumer to pull wagons circa 2600 BC, and then chariots on the Standard of Ur, circa 2000 BC. These have been suggested to represent Onagers, but are now thought to have been domestic asses. (Clutton-Brock)



  • Database entry includes justification for why this species is vulnerable
  • Duncan, P. (ed.). 1992. Zebras, Asses, and Horses: an Action Plan for the Conservation of Wild Equids. IUCN/SSC Equid Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
  • Moehlman, P. & Feh, C. 2002. Equus hemionus. In: IUCN 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. . Downloaded on 21 January 2006.
  • Horse Power: A History of the Horse and the Donkey in Human Societies
onager in Arabic: أخدر
onager in Aragonese: Onagro
onager in Bulgarian: Кулан
onager in Czech: Osel asijský
onager in Danish: Onager
onager in German: Asiatischer Esel
onager in Spanish: Equus hemionus
onager in Esperanto: Sovaĝazeno
onager in French: Hémione
onager in Italian: Equus hemionus
onager in Hebrew: פרא
onager in Lithuanian: Kulanas
onager in Dutch: Onager
onager in Japanese: アジアノロバ
onager in Norwegian: Asiatisk villesel
onager in Polish: Osioł azjatycki
onager in Portuguese: Hemíono
onager in Russian: Кулан
onager in Finnish: Aasialainen villiaasi
onager in Swedish: Halvåsna
onager in Vietnamese: Lừa rừng Trung Á
onager in Chinese: 波斯野驴
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