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Elephant Kingdom: Sculpture from Indian Architecture

Vikramajit Ram (Author)

Elephants occupy a special place in the life and art of India. Since ancient times, they have been treasured and pampered as the ultimate beasts of burden, venerated as the vehicles of gods and kings and even worshipped in their own right. Their legendary attributes of strength, intelligence, nobility and longevity are eulogized in myth, epic and popular literature. In the figural and decorative arts, elephants provide an enduring fascination. Elephant Kingdom traces the myriad stories and symbolisms behind India's much-loved animal, through its depictions in architectural sculpture. At the heart of the study is a collection of photographs from a diversity of antique settings -many of them in remote parts of the subcontinent. At centuries -old temples, monasteries, forts and places, elephants flank ceremonial entrances, enrich columns and capitals, form balustrades to stairways or stand as enigmatic sentinels of vast courtyards. Some are legendary characters in tales of dreams and salvation; others enact scenes from a faithfully observed natural history. Some transport kings are heroes into battle and the hunt; others are celestial messengers of rain, fertility and good fortune. From monumental freestanding sculptures to finely-worked narrative friezes, the warmth and energy of these depictions bear testimony to the achievements of countless anonymous artisans. The result of a series of journeys to places where elephants still endure in stone, this book is not only an album of inspirations and motifs unique to India, but also a record of the special status ascribed to these majestic -and now endangered -giants of the animal world.

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About the author

Vikramajit Ram

Vikramajit Ram trained at the national Institute of design and is an independent designer and writer based in Bangalore. His photographs of architecture and sculpture have illustrated various publications including the Crafts Council of India’s two-volume documentations, Stone Crafts of India.

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Bibliographic information

Title Elephant Kingdom: Sculpture from Indian Architecture
Format Hardcover
Date published: 18.09.2007
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788188204687
length 104p., Plates; Glossary; Maps; Notes; Bibliography; 29cm.