Elephant goad (ankus)

Elephant goad (ankus)

Gold enamelled and set with natural colourless sapphires and possibly colourless beryls and topazes
Jaipur, India
Museum no. 02693(IS)

The ankus is a tool for the handling and training of elephants consisting of a metal hook attached to a short handle. The elephant is trained to respond to pressure applied to the sensitive skin behind the ears in much the same manner as horses by spurs.

Elephants have been used during religious ceremonies and processions and as mounts for royalty since antiquity. The ankus is therefore found in armouries and temples all across India, often ornately decorated with gemstones, or engraved with passages of sacred text.

The ankus is one of the eight auspicious objects known as Astamangala in Hinduism, and is associated with certain other religions of the Indian subcontinent. A goad is also an attribute of many Hindu gods, including Ganesha.