en

An elephant goad

Number

M20.020

Origin

India, Rajasthan (Jaipur)

Time

19th century

Technique

Casting, forging, enameling, gem-setting

Material

Gold, iron, diamonds, emeralds, enamels

Dimensions

Length 511 mm

The goad consists of a small spike, hook and haft with an iron core. The spike, hook and partially haft are covered with transparent red enamel and set with numerous gems in the traditional Indian kundan technique. The rest of the haft is decorated with transparent green, opaque blue and white enamels forming leaves and flowers against a red ground. In addition, the spherical haft end is set with several precious stones. Total 140 diamonds and 105 emeralds.

COMMENT. Elephant goad is a special tool that is used to control an elephant. The Indian name is ankus (or ankusha), which means "hook" in Sanskrit. In fact, the goad is a short spear with a hook. The elephant trainer (mahout) was supposed to accustom the huge animal to respond to the slightest pressure exerted by the hook and spike upon the most sensitive areas of his head. In India, the elephant was considered to be the personification of power, wisdom and majesty since the ancient times. The best elephants had a pride of place in royal stables and played an important role in religious and secular processions, while the richly decorated elephant goads were used as an indicator of status and a sign of royalty. The elegant design and opulent enameled decor set with numerous precious stones indicate that this ankus was manufactured the city of Jaipur for a very important person. According to Samuel S. Jacob and Thomas H. Hendley, enameled and gem-set elephant goads formed part of the dress of honour (hilat) presented by the Maharaja of Jaipur to some of the highest nobles (Jacob, S.S., Hendley, T.H. Jeypore Enamels. – London, 1886. – P. 12). The presented item is a wonderful example of Jaipur jewelry art, especially since elephant goads made of precious materials are quite rare. Two magnificent enameled and gem-set goads from Jaipur can be seen in the Wallace Collection in London (inv. no. OA1382) and in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (inv. no. 02693(IS), see The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule / Edited by R. Skelton: [Exhibition Catalogue]. – London, 1982. – P. 136, no. 449).