Collections: Asian Art: Stalling Elephant

  • 1st Floor
    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
  • 2nd Floor
    Arts of Asia and the Islamic World
  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

On View: Vase, Chief Shavehead

Rookwood Pottery Company introduced Indian figural decoration in the mid-1880s, when white Americans became increasingly aware of the plight...

Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige's 118 woodblock landscape and genre scenes of mid-nineteenth-century Tokyo, is one of the greatest achievements of Japanese art.

    On View: The Martyrs of the Union Minière du Haut Katanga at the Stadium Formerly Called 'Albert I', now 'Mobutu', Kenia Township, Lubumbashi

    This work depicts the massacre of striking mineworkers in Lubumbashi at the order of the Belgian colonial government on December 9, 1941. Th...

     

    Want to add this object to a set? Please join the Posse, or log in.

    close

    2002.38_IMLS_SL2.jpg 2002.38_bw_IMLS.jpg

    Stalling Elephant

    This delicately painted image shows an elephant refusing to obey its two drivers (mahouts). Elephants were prized possessions for India’s aristocracy, and they were used for transportation in battle, when hunting, and on ritual occasions. Elephants consume large quantities of food each day, so they are exceedingly expensive to keep. Because elephants are so large, and because taming elephants can be difficult and dangerous, these animals became important emblems of a ruler’s power and leadership skills.

    Close examination of this painting reveals that the body of the elephant, its saddle blanket, and the costumes of the two mahouts are rendered in marbleized patterns, a decorative effect that is achieved by swirling oil-based paints on the surface of water and then lowering paper carefully onto the paint. The artist would have had to repeat this process at least four times to achieve the different colors and patterns in this painting, using stencils or some sort of resist coating to keep the paint in the desired areas. This highly specialized technique was practiced briefly in only one or two courts in the southern Indian region known as the Deccan and appears to have fallen out of use after the seventeenth century.

    • Culture: Indian
    • Medium: Ink, gold and watercolor on paper
    • Place Made: Deccan, India
    • Dates: mid 17th century
    • Dimensions: Sheet: 6 1/2 x 4 7/8 in. (16.5 x 12.4 cm)  (show scale)
    • Inscriptions: seal at left margin previously thought illegible, date "A.H. 1105" (A.D. 1693-94) and regnal year "2" later deciphered (per "Journey Through Asia" catalogue, 2003)
    • Collections:Asian Art
    • Museum Location: This item is not on view
    • Accession Number: 2002.38
    • Credit Line: Gift of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner in celebration of his 90th Birthday
    • Rights Statement: No known copyright restrictions
    • Caption: Indian. Stalling Elephant, mid 17th century. Ink, gold and watercolor on paper, Sheet: 6 1/2 x 4 7/8 in. (16.5 x 12.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner in celebration of his 90th Birthday, 2002.38
    • Image: overall, 2002.38_IMLS_SL2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    • Catalogue Description: The mahout seated on the rear of the elephant sports a long moustache with fine shadowing of beard on his face, his right arm extended and the index finger hooked around the rope which holds the saddle cloth in place. A younger mahout seated in front, with delicate features, leans over the elephant's head, a goad in his right hand and his left arm raised with his hand held against his forehead indicating that he is directing the elephant to take a bow. This action is evidenced by the elephant's pose with forelegs outstretched and trunk raised. The beast is adorned with bells on chains, suspended from long ropes across his body. The Stalling Elephant with Two Riders is a tour de force of the marbler's art, representing a fleeting tradition in Deccani painting. According to the analysis by Christopher Weimann, the marbled areas of this painting were produced by means of four stencils, one for the figures' robes, one for the upper saddle cloth, one for the lower saddle cloth, and one for the elephant. Not only do the colors of each marbled passage vary but also the direction of the marbling contrasts from section to section. As Weimann notes, the patterns formed by the marbling heighten the sense of movement and define the contours of the elephant's body. The tree and birds in the background, the figures' faces, and the bells, ropes, and shawls were all painted and highlighted with gold once the marbling was complete. While the riders' faces conform to mid-seventeenth-century Mughal norms, the evidence available on marbled paintings of the seventeenth century strongly supports an attribution of the group to a Deccani workshop, probably located at Bijapur.
    • Record Completeness: Best (86%)
    advanced 106,570 records currently online.

    Separate each tag with a space: painting portrait.

    Or join words together in one tag by using double quotes: "Brooklyn Museum."


    Recent Comments
    10:03 03/7/2011
    O elephant
    you silly beast
    will you not listen and do what
    your mahouts tell you to do?
    Have you not eaten mountains
    and put out as much?
    and when it was necessary
    have we not let you rest
    and washed you and let you roam
    at will within boundaries -
    and yet will you disobey and display stubbornness,
    a will of your own?
    Forget not the chains
    and the ankus,
    the sharp metal rod I use and will not hesitate to use –
    do you remember? – you do have long memory don’t you?
    Or should I refresh your memory
    with the metal hook in your mouth
    or inner ear?
    Would you like that?
    Follow orders, dear elephant –
    it’s safer, easier for man and beast…



    Please review the comment guidelines before posting.

    Before you comment...

    We get a lot of comments, so before you post yours, check to see if your issue is addressed by one of the questions below. Click on a question to see our answer:

    Why are some objects not on view?

    The Museum’s permanent collections are very large and only a fraction of these can be on exhibition at any given time. Sometimes works are lent to other museums for special exhibitions; sometimes they are in the conservation laboratory for study or maintenance. Certain types of objects, such as watercolors, textiles, and photographs, are sensitive to light and begin to fade if they are exposed for too long, so their exhibition time is limited. Finally, as large as the Museum is, there is not enough room to display everything in the collections. In order to present our best works, collections are rotated periodically.

    How do I find out how much an object in the Brooklyn Museum collections is worth?

    The Museum does not disclose the monetary values of objects in its collections.

    Can you tell me the value of an artwork that I own?

    The Museum does not provide monetary appraisals. To determine the value of an object or to find an appraiser, you may contact the Art Dealers Association of America or the American Society of Appraisers.

    I own a similar object. Can you tell me more about it?

    Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you own and as much information about it as you can, and we will provide any additional information we are able to find. Please note that research in our files is a lengthy process, and you may not have a response for some time.

    How would I go about lending or gifting a work to the Museum or seeing if the Museum is interested in purchasing a work that I own?

    Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you would like us to consider, as well as all of the information you have about it, and your offer will be forwarded to the appropriate curator. The Brooklyn Museum collections are very rich, and we have many works that are not currently on exhibition; because of this, and because storage space is limited, we are very selective about adding works. However, the collection has become what it is today through the generosity of the public, and we continue to be grateful for this generosity, which can still lead to exciting new acquisitions.

    How can I get a reproduction of a work in your collection?

    Please see the Museum’s information on Image Services.

    How can I show my work to someone at the Museum or be considered for an exhibition?

    Please see the Museum’s Artist Submission Guidelines.

    Why do many objects not have photographs and/or complete descriptions?

    The Museum's collection is very large, and we are constantly in the process of adding photographs and descriptions to works that do not currently have them, or replacing photographs that have deteriorated beyond use and descriptions that are minimal or out of date. This is a long and expensive process that takes time.

    How can I find a conservator or get advice on how to treat my artwork?

    Please visit the American Institute for Conservation, which has a feature on how to find a conservator.

    I have a comment or question which is not included in this list.

    Join the posse or log in to work with our collections. Your tags, comments and favorites will display with your attribution.