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The Talkative Turtle
Page from a dispersed series of the Panchatantra (Book I: The Estrangement of Friends)

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Rajasthan, India, Asia

18th century

Opaque watercolor on paper

Image: 2 3/8 × 4 1/2 inches (6 × 11.4 cm) Sheet: 6 × 9 1/2 inches (15.2 × 24.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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Two geese try to save their friend the turtle from drought by transporting him to another lake. The plan is for the geese to hold a stick between them, using their beaks, and for the turtle to bite the stick and so be carried through the air. But, knowing that the turtle is chatty, the geese make him promise to remain silent during the flight. Unheeding, the stupid turtle opens his mouth to speak, and so falls off the stick and is killed:

One who heeds not words of advice
from friends who care about his welfare
will be destroyed like the turtle
who foolishly let go of the stick.