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Elephant in Battle

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Kota, Rajasthan, India, Asia

c. 1750-1770

Opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper

Sheet: 15 7/8 × 18 15/16 inches (40.3 × 48.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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The Indian elephant was used as a primary battle engine for over two thousand years across the subcontinent and was valued by rulers far above horses. In this painting, a heavily armored battle elephant rampages across a bright yellow Weld amid troops mounted on horses. On his back are two soldiers armed with spears, arrows, and swords; the foremost is the mahout who wields the elephant goad that could give a trained elephant over a hundred commands by gentle touches to different parts of the animal's body. The elephant has chains on its legs and carries more in its trunk. They would have served as flails to attack the enemy infantry. At some point after its making, this vivid painting appears to have been cut down from a larger work and an apparently spurious inscription was added on the back.