Composite Elephant

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.

Composite Elephant, Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

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