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UNKNOWN INDIAN ARTIST

BATTLE SCENE WITH AN ELEPHANT TRAMPLING A SOLDIER AND A WARRIOR ON HORSEBACK, 18TH-EARLY 19TH CENTURY

About the Artwork

The elephant, valued for its monumentality and strength, was the most frequently depicted animal in Mughal and Rajput paintings. Elephants are shown in various activities, including processions and hunts, combats with one another, and as in this case, war. Elephants are reserved animals with a natural fear of fire. Before being used in combat, an elephant had to be trained for years, with firecrackers set off between its legs and muskets fired close to its head. In war, the elephant had to be provoked into battle. Here, the driver (mahout) sitting in the forward position on the animal jabs an elephant goad into its head. The charging steed lunges at a soldier with his sword upraised. The lower half of the valiant horse is painted orange in a pictorial convention symbolizing the deep pool of blood left on the battlefield after a fierce confrontation.

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