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Portrait of the Elephant 'Alam Guman

Painting attributed to Bichitr (active ca. 1610–60)
Object Name:
Illustrated album leaf
ca. 1640
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
a) Whole page H. 18.1 in. (46 cm) W. 12.6 in. (32 cm) b) Whole page H. 18.1/8 in. (46 cm) W. 12 5/8 in. (32 cm) Calligraphy page: H. 73/4 in. (19.6 cm) W. 3 1/16 in. (7.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1996
Accession Number:
Not on view
Persian inscription (in nasta'liq script in gold cartouche, possibly in Shah Jahan’s hand): "Likeness of 'Alam Guman Gajraj [the arrogant one of the earth, king of elephants] whose value is one lakh [a hundred thousand rupees]" Along with seventeen other elephants from Mewar, this famous tusker was presented to the Mughal emperor Jahangir during the New Year celebrations of March 21, 1614. In his memoirs, Jahangir states: "on the second day of the New Year, knowing it propitious for a ride, I mounted ['Alam Guman] and scattered about much money." Elephants were among the prized possession of the Indian courts, and their portraiture falls into the larger Mughal practice of meticulously recording the treasures of the court.
Inscription: Inscription in Persian in naskhi script in gold cartouche:
شبیه عالم کمان کجراج/ قیمت یک لک روپیه
Likeness of ‘Alam Kaman Gajraj (the arrogant one of the earth, king of elephants), whose value is one lakh [100,000 rupees]
[ Terence McInerney, New York, until 1996; sold to MMA]
Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 54, no. 2 (1995–1996). p. 17, ill. (color).

Seyller, John. "The Inspection and Valuation of Manuscripts in the Imperial Mughal Library." Artibus Asiae vol. 57 (1997). p. 278.

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