6369

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Indian or Sri Lankan Cast & Engraved Brass Elephant

South India or Sri Lanka
18th-19th century

length: 22cm, width: 14cm, height: 17.4cm, weight: 2.44g

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Provenance

UK art market

This very well-cast brass image of a striding, caparisoned elephant dates to the 18th and possibly the 19th century and is from either South India or Sri Lanka. It has been engraved with leafy scrolls and the trunk holds a leafy flourish, all of which is typical of both South Indian and Sri Lankan metalwork.

It stands on a raised, rectangular plinth that has flared sides that have been engraved with lotus petal motifs. The front of the plinth has been shaped to match the elephant’s trunk which rests on the base and the front also has been cast with a lug or eyelet to allow the image to be secured.

The figure would have been used in a religious setting and perhaps adorned an altar in association with a deity – perhaps Lakshmi if used in a Hindu setting or a Buddha image if used in a Buddhist setting in Sri Lanka.

The image has a lovely, golden patina consistent with significant age.

The base would have had a pierced, brass strap attached to each corner which were also used to secure the image but three of these have been torn away and only one remains. The losses are to each of the three corners of the base. One corner retains an old repair with copper rivets and even this repair has been smoothed with age and handling and itself has a fine patina.

Overall, this is a fine sculptural work with a strong, decorative presence.

References

Seneviratna, A., The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic: History and Architecture of the Temples, Volume 1, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2010.

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