Haathi Mere Saathi 2006

Painting on canvas
Oil on canvas
76.5 x 61.2 cm

Hathi mera sati is the Hindi phrase for “I like elephants”. This image looks at the differing manner in which different cultures treat or exploit elephants (and zebras). In Africa the extermination of elephants for hunting pleasure and the gain derived from the sale of ivory often results in by products such as the feet of elephants being used as umbrella and walking stick holders. In this case a combination of elephant feet and zebra hide covers make for domestic (ottoman) foot rests. Elephant heads were (are?) much in demand as taxidermy specimens or hunting trophies. In India tame elephants are beasts of burden used in warfare and hunting but interestingly in Hindu Mythology an elephant’s head was used by a king to replace the decapitated head he had removed from his own son. The result is the deity Ganesha.* Whatever the body parts elephants are still constantly targeted.

*According to myth, Ganesha was a little boy and his Mother (Goddess Parvati) had to go out of the house to have a bath so she Left Ganesha in charge and not to let anybody in. Ganesha was guarding the house when Shiva (Ganesha’s father) tried to get into the house of his wife’s but Ganesha refused to let him in so Shiva cut of Ganesha’s head but Parvati saw this happen and ordered Shiva to get the first head that faces North and bring it back to place on Ganesha’s head and restore his life.



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