Elephant eating a tree

India, Mankot, Himachal Pradesh

Not on view

The scene depicts a finely caparisoned royal elephant, with his caretaker (mahout) and an assistant seated on the fine textile saddlecloth. Numerous bells hang from the elephant’s harness. The mahout is dressed in his best attire, likely in anticipation of a parade. He is a mature bearded man, elegantly dressed in fine tunic (jama) and with a beautiful dagger fixed in his sash (patka). He gestures a command with a raised hand and attempts to restrain the prized elephant with his goad (ankus). His assistant, also finely attired, holds a long spear with flying pennant. Ahead of the parade, the elephant is being treated to a meal of fresh foliage. This is a witty and lively glimpse into an everyday aspect of court ceremonial, the preparations for a state elephant parade.

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