Howdah (Primary Title)
Elephant Saddle (Translation)

Unknown (Artist)

ca. 1896–1917
silver, gilded silver, wood, velvet, glass, paint
India,Chhattisgarh, former princely state of Surguja
Overall (howdah): 26 × 57 1/2 × 40 1/2 in. (66.04 × 146.05 × 102.87 cm)
Other (parasol, furled): 47 1/2 × 13 in. (120.65 × 33.02 cm)

 This spectacular object is a howdah, a thronelike saddle placed on the back of an elephant. Opulent silver-clad howdahs were popular with the princes who ruled British India’s small states between the 18th and 20th centuries. Seated high atop an elephant on a mobile throne was the grandest—and safest—way a ruler could move through the throngs at lavish public processions marking coronations, royal birthdays, and other dynastic events. Part of an Indian ruler’s display of grandeur, state howdahs were often outrageously showy works of art intended to overwhelm, delight, and entertain.

Robert A. and Ruth W. Fisher Fund
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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