Elephant Eating Foliage

India, Himachal Pradesh, Mankot

Not on view

Ahead of a parade, a finely caparisoned royal elephant with bells hanging from its harness enjoys a meal of fresh tree foliage. His mahout (keeper) and assistant are seated on the fine textile saddle blanket. The mahout, a mature bearded man, is dressed in his best attire, likely in anticipation of the parade, including a fine jama (tunic) with a beautiful punch dagger (katar) fixed in his waist sash (patka). He holds a large goad (ankus) and gestures a command with his raised hand as he attempts to restrain the elephant, who is determined to feed, while his assistant holds a long spear with a flying pennant. This witty vignette offers a lively glimpse into the preparations for a state parade, one of the everyday aspects of court ceremonial life.

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