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Indian Art, A Magnificent and Rare Carved, Polychromed, Gilt and Varnished Ivory Composed Group Depicting a Crowned Prince, Musicians and Dancers in the form of a processional Elephant, Probably Golconda, Deccan-India, Circa 1800

The composition of human and other figures are a very common theme and was wildly used in Islamic and Indian art and was mainly used in miniature’s paintings.
This magnificent lot has been attributed to the Deccan on the bases of the materials, figures postures, costumes and style.
And more importantly the striking similarities between our present lot to the 17th century miniature, depicting a Composed Elephant, painted in a Golconda centre in the Deccan region, this miniature belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, US, accession No.: 1985.247, on view in gallery 463.
Our current ivory composed Group is more likely to have been based on the above Deccani Miniature, with some variation to the posture of the women musicians and dancers, some of which maintain the same position, like the double-headed drummer (Tavil), can be found on the abdominal side of the elephant and the woman dancer that forms with her long braid the elephant tail.

This lot is carved out of one of Ivory piece polychromed, painted, gilt and varnished, and can be considered as a representation of a deccani court pageantry.
The group depicts Female dancers and Musicians with their popular Indian musical instruments, garbing each other in different body positions, together they form the elegant elephant body parts.
Riding the elephant a crowned prince or a nobleman holding an elephant goad in one hand and a bouquet of arranged lotus flours on the other hand, accompanied with him a female holding a fly Wisk in one hand and a bouquet of lotus flours on the other hand.

For research and lot attributions please see Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700, Opulence and Fantasy, by Navina Najat Haidar and Maraka Sardar, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, U S., for (materials used & dancers body postures) cat.149 page 254 & cat. 144 page 250, for (dancers, and musicians musical instruments, objects, customs & hair styles) cat. 144 page 250 & cat. 143 page 249, & cat. 161 pages 272 & 277, for (lotus flowers) cat. 169-c page 293 & cat. 142 pages 246-247.

Provenance: this lot was part of the Dr Jean-Claude Cholet Collection of Chess sets, and was sold at Christies Auction House in 2007, lot 139.

Condition: Excellent, minor chip to elephant goad, and minor rubbings
Height 15 cm
Base diam. 10 cm
  • Identification Number: 86

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