Portrait of the Elephant 'Alam Guman

Painting attributed to Bichitr Indian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 463

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.

Portrait of the Elephant  'Alam Guman, Painting attributed to Bichitr (Indian, active ca. 1610–60), Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

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