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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
South Asia, Room 41

Elephant goad (ankus)

Elephant Goad
ca. 1870 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold, enamelled and set with natural colourless sapphires, and possibly colourless beryls and topazes.
Brief Description
Elephant goad ankus gold set with natural colourless sapphires, polychrome enamel, Jaipur, ca. 1870
Physical Description
Elaborately ornamented elephant goad, with two terminal spikes of blued steel, one straight and one curved. Gold set with natural colourless sapphires and other diamond simulants on blue, green or red enamel with polychrome painted enamel on the grip, depicting scenes of the hunt.
Dimensions
  • Length: 54.5cm
  • Width: 14cm
  • Diameter at thickest part thickness: 3.8cm
Gallery Label
20. ELEPHANT GOAD (ANKUS) Enamelled gold set with diamonds Jaipur c. 1870 02693 (IS) This probably belonged to a traditional khilat, or dress of honour, given by a maharaja to a person of distinction. It was bought by the museum from London’s 1871 Annual International Exhibition.(27/9/2013)
Credit line
Transferred from the India Museum in 1879
Object history
Acquired for the India Museum after being shown at the 1871 Exhibition; transferred to the South Kensington Museum in 1879. Acquisition records note the presence of diamonds; examination by Joanna Whalley on 3 September 2009 indicates that these are all diamond simulants, mostly natural colourless sapphires and possibly some colourless beryls and topaz.
Subjects depicted
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • Guy, John and Swallow, Deborah (eds.) Arts of India: 1550-1900. Text by Rosemary Crill, John Guy, Veronica Murphy, Susan Stronge and Deborah Swallow. London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1990, reprinted 1999. 240 p. : ill. ISBN: 1851770224.p.213, pl.188
  • Skelton, Robert, et al, The Indian Heritage. Court life and Arts under Mughal Rule London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982p. 136, cat. no. 449, Susan Stronge
  • Egerton, Wilbraham, An illustrated handbook of Indian arms; being a classified and descriptive catalogue of the arms exhibited at the India museum: with an introductory sketch of the military history of India, London, 1880p.109
  • Jackson, Anna and Ji Wei (eds.) with Rosemary Crill, Ainsley M. Cameron and Nicholas Barnard, compiled by the Palace Museum, translated by Yuan Hong, Qi Yue and Liu Ran. The Splendour of India' Royal Courts : Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Beijing: the Forbidden City Publishing House, 2013. Text in English and Chinese. ISBN 9787513403917.pps. 46 and 47
  • Diamonds: the world's most dazzling exhibition, London, Natural History Museum, 2005
  • Lord Egerton of Tatton, Indian and Oriental Armour, London, 1896, p. 109, Cat. No. 391A
  • Bryant, Julius and Weber, Susan, John Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London Newhaven: Yale University Press, 2017p. 543, cat 196
Other Number
391 A - Egerton Catalogue Number
Collection
Accession Number
02693(IS)

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record createdDecember 21, 1999
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