Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Composite Elephant

Object Name:
Illustrated single work
Date:
early 17th century
Geography:
India, Deccan, probably Golconda
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions:
Page: 9 11/16 x 8 in. (24.6 x 20.3 cm) Text box (recto): 9 5/16 x 5 11/16 in. (23.7 x 14.4 cm)
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
Purchase, Louis E. and Theresa S. Seley Purchase Fund for Islamic Art, Rogers Fund, and Alastair B. Martin, Margaret Mushekian and Time-Life Inc. Gifts, 1985
Accession Number:
1985.247
Not on view
Rocks and animals that upon closer inspection reveal themselves to be composed of human and other figures are a common conceit in Islamic art. Female dancers and musicians in Indian garb have formed the legs, body, and tusks of the purple elephant here. Astride the beast are a noble figure with an elephant goad, acting as mahout; a female to the rear of him holds a cloth fan. This whimsical painting differs greatly from the detailed nature studies found in Mughal albums, the depiction of the elephant here being not the result of careful observation but rather a metaphoric representation of court pageantry.
[ Krishna Nathan, New York, until 1985; sold to MMA]
Serwani, H., ed. History of Medieval Deccan (1295–1724). Vol. 2 vol.. Andhra Pradesh, 1974. ill. plate IX a.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 43 (1995–1996). p. 12, ill. p. 12 (b/w).



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