In ancient India the white elephants were believed to represent the clouds and by association, fertility. They were further believed to have wings. There is an interesting legend which explains how the elephants lost their wings. One day a groups of white elephants alighted on the branch of a tree to listen to a noted sage lecturing his students below. Due to their weight the branch supporting them broke, and the elephants fell down killing a few students. The enraged sage then cursed them so that they lost their wings.
In India to this day a white elephant retains its 'cloud-like' symbolism. It is as if it were a living rain-cloud, believed to be capable of bringing rain and fertility and therefore regarded as very auspicious.
Here in this artwork stand two white elephants their trunks upraised in a gesture of triumph. These images are believed to be extremely auspicious and often entrances are adorned with such icons. The animals splendidly caparisoned in richly embroidered cloth are decked with jewels and majestic crowns. With their upraised trunks and tusks they support sheaves of wheat, a further acclamation of their fertility bestowing powers. In this regard may also be mentioned that the fluid exuded from the temples of the white elephant, called mada, was highly esteemed as a potent aphrodisiac.
Of Related Interest:
Elephant on Wheels (Brass Statue)
Decorated Elephants (Marble Sculpture)
The Elephant Fight (Water Color on Old Paper)
Decorated Elephant (Silk Painting)
Elephant Head (Sterling Silver Pendant)
Elephant Brooch (Sterling Silver)
Elephant Silver Ring (Finger Ring)