India, Rajasthan (ARCHIVED)

India.jpg
India.jpg

India, Rajasthan (ARCHIVED)

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An Elephant in Distress, 1824

Gouache on paper, 18.5 x 25 cm

In Indian art the portrayal of elephants is often more individually expressive than that of their human masters. This painting of an elephant suffering from painful illness is a folio from a Rajasthani manuscript written for Prince Asi Singh of Mukhtapur by a court veterinary surgeon and dated 1824. The manuscript is in three sections. The first lists the elephants in the royal stable, with biographies and portraits of each. The second is anatomical and is illustrated with charts of the surface of the elephant’s body painted in loving detail. The final section, of which this folio forms part, is devoted to animal ailments and their cures. The miniatures in this section are perhaps the most lively in the manuscript: the more serious distresses are given the form of demons attacking their victims. The manuscript was evidently highly regarded as, unlike most other lavish court productions, its covers were made with a lock and key.

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