Decorating Elephants at Hathi Gaon in Rajasthan

Decorating Elephants at Hathi Gaon in Rajasthan

in Video
Published on: 18 June 2018

Shakshi Gupta

Shakshi Gupta is a textile researcher with a M.Sc. in Fabric and Apparel Science, specialising in Conservation of Traditional Textiles from Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi. She has worked on the heritage textile conservation project at Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, City Palace Museum, Udaipur and Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur, for the exhibition ‘Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India’ in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Jaipur, Rajasthan, December 10, 2017


Since ancient times, harnessed elephants have been employed by emperors and religious institutes for various purposes. They have always been an essential part of the lifestyle of Indian royalty, especially in Rajasthan. Therefore, they were groomed with great pomp and ceremony. But with the passage of time, the use of bedecked elephants gradually declined, which gave rise to rapid commercialization. Yet, India is a country where the customs and love for the animals never fades away. So, presently, Hathi Gaon is a village for elephants, located 12 km away from the main city of Jaipur, where nearly 150 elephants live with their families and mahavats and where the craft of grooming elephants continues till today. But the decoration focuses on body art instead of jewellery and clothing. Body art includes body painting, which is one of the major forms of decoration and lasts for several hours and weeks on the elephant’s body. Sometimes later, these painted elephants are decked up with the traditional jewellery and clothing like jhul, seeri etc., for special occasions.