Tantric Painting of a Giant Bird, a Simurgh, & Elephants
An unusual painting of elephants being carried aloft by a giant white bird.
In this extraordinary painting nine elephants are in the grip of a huge white bird. One is in the bird's open beak, two are held in it's claws while the other six are ensnared in the bird's voluminous tail feathers.
The bird is Simurgh, a benevolent Phoenix like bird. In other paintings the Simurgh swoops down on a mythical creature called a Gajasimha (a giant elephant lion, a makura hybrid creature) which is flinging around several small elephants. There is a ferocious battle between the two creatures; in Islam the Simurgh represents purity & healing).
The myth and image were brought from Persia to India by the Moghuls around 1600 where it may have merged with the garuda, the sunbird.
The background is a pale blue green; there are traces of a lake or river in the foreground and the horizon is dark with the silhouettes of trees or menacing black clouds. The whole image is surrounded with an earth red border.
Bought in Ladakh.