Bejewelled and smoking a hookah, the Rajput ruler is shown riding in procession to the temple of Eklingji, his ancestral deity. He is surrounded by attendants carrying his lawajama (regalia and insignia) and a large group of nobles and courtiers, many of whom are identified in an inscription on the reverse. The lively and detailed depiction reveals the talents of the Mewar artist Bakhta and his son Chokha.
When borne on an elephant, Indian rulers sat on a howdah. It was often embellished with royal symbols and executed in silver or gold, the precious metals reflecting the majesty of the king. This howdah, complete with parasol, comes from the collection of the maharajas of Marwar. The rear seat would have been occupied by an attendant bearing a parasol or chauri.
In India elephants are symbols of wealth and prosperity. They had pride of place in royal stables and were used in important religious and secular processions. The elephant driver or mahout controlled the animal using an ankus (literally ‘to restrain’). This ceremonial example was made in Jaipur, a city famed for fine enamelling. The images on the handle depict scenes of a hunt.
When dressed ceremonially a royal elephant would have worn a jhool, a large textile covering its back and sides and a smaller piece, a sehri, to adorn its forehead. These examples are from the royal collection of Marwar and were used well into the 20th century.
As the mount of a king a royal elephant was equally richly dressed. Elephant jewellery included a necklace (halra), tail ornament (dumachi), head ornament (fateh-pech) and bells (ghanta ). The pieces shown here belong to the royal family of Mewar and are still occasionally used.
In Indian court ritual the power of the king was articulated through his regalia and insignia, collectively known as lawajama (literally ‘necessary things’). This round fan is an adani, and in procession was swung on the axis of a long staff. The textile draping would have been soaked in sandalwood oil, which gives off a distinctive scent that is considered sacred in Hinduism.
The secular and sacred power of an Indian king was expressed most spectacularly in the grand public processions that celebrated royal events and religious festivities. Riding a richly caparisoned elephant or horse, the ruler was lavishly dressed and jewelled and surrounded by attendants bearing symbolic attributes of kingship: a royal parasol, chauri, fans and staffs of authority.
The vision of a king in all his splendour was believed to be auspicious. It was central to the concept of darshan, the propitious act of seeing and being seen by a superior being, whether a god or a king. Although originally a Hindu notion, the idea of darshan became an integral aspect of kingship throughout the subcontinent.
भारतीय राजा के लौकिक एवं पवित्र शक्ति को सबसे शानदार तरीके से, उन भव्य सार्वजनिक शोभायात्राओं में प्रदर्शित किया जाता था जो राजकीय घटनाओं एवं धार्मिक उत्सवों को मनाने के लिए आयोजित की जाती थीं| एक पूर्ण रूप से सुसज्जित हाथी या घोड़े पर सवार राजा, शानदार कपड़ों और आभूषणों में सजा हुआ होता था| उसके चारों ओर राजत्व के प्रतीकों को पकड़े हुए सेवक रहते थे| इनमें: एक राजकीय छत्री,चौरी, पंखें एवं अधिकार की छड़ी शामिल थे|
राजा को उसके शानसके शानदार रूप में देखना शुभ माना जाता था| यह दर्शन की धारणा का केन्द्र था| एक अधिक श्रेष्ठ व्यक्ति को देखना एवं उसके द्वारा देखे जाने का शुभ कार्य, चाहे वह भगवान हो या राजा| यद्यपि, मूल रूप से यह एक हिन्दू धारणा थी| फिर भी, दर्शन की धारणा पूरे उपमहाद्वीप में राजत्व का एक अनिवार्य पहलू बन गयी|