'The Lord White Elephant' Regalia
Artist: Grant, Colesworthy (1813-1880)
Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink
Watercolour with pen and ink of the the regalia worn by the ‘Lord White Elephant’, a rare and auspicious white elephant kept by the King at Amarapura from 'A Series of Views in Burmah taken during Major Phayre’s Mission to the Court of Ava in 1855' by Colesworthy Grant. This album consists of 106 landscapes and portraits documenting the British embassy to the Burmese King, Mindon Min (r.1853-1878). The mission started from Rangoon (Yangon) and travelled up the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River to the royal capital of Amarapura, founded in 1782. Grant (1813-1880) was sent as official artist and Linnaeus Tripe as photographer. Grant was presented with a gold cup and ruby ring by the Burmese King in recognition of his skill.
Grant wrote: 'Fig 1. - A plate of gold, probably eighteen inches in length, bordered with innumerable Rubies, and having, in the centre, the name or title of the Royal beast. Worn across the forehead. Fig 2. - The jewelled Frontlet, worn above the trunk, and below the eyes; a massive crescent of gold, with three rows of Rubies around the edge. In the centre...Diamond, Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire, and Pearl [are found]...Fig 3. - The head covering. A gigantic net of Pearls, embossed with plates, or rosettes, of gold set with Rubies. Two jewelled circles, of size and position corresponding to the two bumps on the Elephant's head, over which they fitted, occupied the centres of the two hemispheres of this net...Environing this entire net, that was in shape like a peepul leaf, was a band of Rubies, and this again was margined by vandyke or net pearl work, edged with a border of thin gold peepul leaves. Two immense jewels, one an emerald, surrounded by Diamonds, and small gold leaves, were pendant at the lower point of this head dress, and would fall between the eyes. Fig 4. - Was the 'Choonee', or Driving hook. The hook and handle were formed of crystal, tipped with gold; and the whole length of the staff, about three feet long, was cased in pearls, banded at intervals with gold and rubies. It was altogether an exceedingly beautiful and tasteful article. Fig 5. - A smaller choonee, or hook, formed of gold, set with small Rubies, with handle of cane. It is believed to have been the ordinary hook used by Royal hands on some occasions of the former King or Kings have ridden the 'Lord white Elephant'.'