Gentle giant in stone

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 21.09.07
The elephant is not merely an animal in India. The historical and cultural ethos of the land has lent to this creature a legendary, often mythical, aura, making it a central figure in art, sculpture, literature and myth. ELEPHANT KINGDOM: SCULPTURES FROM INDIAN ARCHITECTURE (Mapin, Rs 995) by Vikramajit Ram is a collection of photographs that depicts a country’s fascination, expressed in stone, with its favourite animal. The settings and contexts of the images vary — temples, forts, palaces and so on. On the left is the picture of a wall panel in the Dashavatara Temple in Deogarh, depicting a scene from the Gajendra Moksha legend, featuring a gaja-kurmasin, a tortoise and an elephant. Bottom right is a royal cenotaph in Bundi showing an elephant taking on a lion, while the marble bas-relief from Kota (top) features a delighted war elephant tripping an unfortunate member of the camel corps.