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An elephant statuette

Number

M20.061

Origin

India, Rajasthan (Jaipur)

Time

Late 19th century

Technique

Casting, enameling, gem-setting

Material

Gold, diamonds, enamels

Dimensions

Height 110 mm

The realistically modeled elephant figure made of gold and decorated in the Jaipur style. The animal’s body is covered with transparent dark blue enamel combined with opaque white, yellow and orange scrolls on the head and the trunk. The ears are spotted with red and dark red opaque enamels on a white ground. The ceremonial blanket and headdress are decorated with white leaves on a ground of red and green transparent enamels. The large oval cartouches covering both sides of the blanket are ornamented with polychrome enamel flowers, foliage and birds on a white ground. The elephant’s head and blanket are set with flat-cut diamonds in the kundan technique. Total 157 diamonds. The rectangular gold stand is enameled in polychrome depicting birds, flowers and foliage.

COMMENT. The presented item is a desk ornament made by Indian jewelers with the use of traditional techniques of enameling (minakari) and gem-setting (kundan). Such richly adorned small plastic works became popular in India in the 19th century influenced by European fashion on expensive and exotic figurines for interior decoration. They depict mainly animals and birds, much less often people. Although these figurines were intended for the Western market, they were often seen also in rich Indian houses and palaces. The combination of a large number of precious stones with colored enamels indicates that the presented elephant figurine was made in the city of Jaipur that, in fact, was the main centre for the production of such desk ornaments in India.