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Maharana Sangram Singh of Mewar Riding in an Elephant Procession

Indian rulers liked to ride elephants because the animals offered a high vantage point and represented the power and stability of a prosperous kingdom. But elephants were very expensive to care for, so only the wealthiest princes could afford to keep them and they used them only on special occasions. This painting must represent an extremely important event, because the prince—carrying a gold elephant goad—is one of several nobleman seated on elephants. The painting offers no information about the destination of the procession; perhaps the group is traveling to visit the ruler of a neighboring state.

Catalogue Description:
Maharana Jagat Singh (with a dark beard, holding a gold elephant goad) rides in a procession of elephants, surrounded by courtiers. The Maharana is followed by bearers of a chauri (fly whisk) and a parade standard in the form of a solar emblem. Attendants or soldiers walk before the Maharana, carrying various weapons. Portraits of rulers and their entourage in procession were relatively common in 18th-century Mewari painting, but processions in which all the courtiers ride elephants are extremely rare. This image must represent a specific procession and/or a special occasion.


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