About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Monday, February 13, 2012

P is for Pachyderm

It is one of my great bugbears that white-metal manufacturers - from the Hollow-casters of the last century, through to the current solid 'New Metal' guys and taking in all the war-game suppliers who've had a go - continue to provide beasts that are too small for Indian elephants or too 'African' looking or that carry the most ridiculous loads vis-a-vis howdahs...or more commonly; large turrets made of roof-timbers or railway sleepers (ties)!

The following are presented therefore to give an indication of how large an Indian (or 'Asian') elephant is - when in the employ of man. Two of the images are taken from the Wikipedia page on the Delhi Durbar (and they won't enlarge), the other five come from the 'History of the Coronation Durbar 1903' compiled by order of the Viceroy and Governor-general of India by Stephen Wheeler and published by John Murray 1904.

They are not the best images but they are copyright-free and give a good idea of the bulk of one of these beasts, their size in comparison with humans - both natives of Asia and Europeans - and the lightweight nature of the structures they carry compared to the weight of the padding, saddle-blankets (large carpets!) etc..

Elephant Carriage of the Maharaja of Rewa - Delhi Durbar - 1903. [Wikipedia]

Show-off! This is what he arrived in from his home state. One of the facts people seem unaware of is that an elephant is a much better 'puller' than carrier, which is why the Raj used them to such good effect as heavy, siege or garrison artillery 'tractors'!

Trials have found they can carry about 4-times the load of a camel over/for the same distance/time; given that a camel would struggle to carry an Elephants saddle-blanket - you can see the problem of these 'forts' war-gamers are so enamoured of; right there!

Taken at the Retainers review (a sort of un-dress rehearsal?)- 1903

A frisky elephant rears-up, it would seem that his howdah is being carried behind him by humans, in two loads, the chair/throne behind and the canopy closer to the camera? They could be two halves of a loading dais though?

Elephants that had been marched hundreds or thousands of miles across the Alps or the whole of the Near-east would have been dressed in their 'forts' minutes before the battle - or at least between breakfast and the battle commencing! This points to a calling for a lightweight structure on two points, one; it has to be quickly maneuverable by the mahouts or fighting crew, two; someone - probably the elephant - has to drag it around on a carriage or sled between battles, sometimes for years?

But if it folded-up...or rolled-up...and was light enough to carry?

Leading Elephant, main body - State Entry 1903 - Scene in Chandni Chauk

This is a big beast, now; it's true they would have been using their prize specimens for an occasion such as this, but an army will be using prime examples too.

The following parade - State Entry 1903 - Scene in Chandni Chauk

Rich or poor, senior or junior I can't see any dignitaries riding an elephant here that is not twice the height of the attendants - at the shoulder - the head carries higher.

Lord and Lady Curzon 1903 - leading the State Entry past the Jama Musjid

This is an interesting shot as the European looks bigger and the elephant by default smaller, but Lord Curzon is high in a large throne - which looks bloody heavy and is no evidence to support the war gamers need for heavy forts, this is a fit, domestic elephant, walking a few miles after a good breakfast, he hasn't traversed Persia, in a drought nursing wounds while his ignorant Sarissa's beat him!

1903 - the rest of the parade following behind - Jama Musjid

Some of the following beasts appear to have very heavy structures on their backs, but - as we saw in the second image - they can be broken-down into man-portable loads. [Compare - Red-eye vs. Rapier] You can't make the forts that come with war-gaming elephants into man-portable loads, except the Italeri/Zvezda ones which are lightweight structures (on decent sized elephants!).

Lord and Lady Curzon arriving at the Durbar 1903 [wikipedia]

Another shot of the main-man, you can see from the scale of the mahout that Lord Curzon is looking bigger due to his solar-toupee and the bloody great throne, not because he's a giant of a man, although we wouldn't have sent dwarves to represent the Great White Monarchs!

There's more of this to come....

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