Statues of the riders of the stone elephants, Delhi
Photographer: Beglar, Joseph David (1845-1907)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of two statues of elephant riders at Delhi from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections, taken by Joseph David Beglar in the 1870s. This is a general view of the statues, carved in red sandstone, which were originally mounted on a pair of life-sized black marble elephants. The riders became separated from their mounts and are shown displayed at either side of the entrance to an unidentified house. The figures are of the upper half only, with curved bases which would be seated on the backs of the elephants. The elephants stood outside the Delhi Gate at the Lal Qila or Red Fort and their riders represented Jaimal and Patta, two heroic Rajput chiefs who defended the fortress of Chitor against the Mughal emperor Akbar. In ‘Archaeological Survey of India: Four reports made during the years 1862-63-64-65’ (Simla, 1871), Alexander Cunningham concludes that the statues originally stood outside the fort at Agra and were brought from there to Delhi. At some point they were moved from the Delhi Gate but the elephants were later reinstated by Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India between 1899 and 1905. Print 877 from the same collection is a view of one of the elephants.