Court art of Sogdian Samarqand in the 7th century AD

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Southern wall

The white elephant and its riders (page II)

Right: close-up of the female figure (no. 5) on the elephant.
In the upper centre are her head and a hand grasping a yellow-coloured piece emerging from the blue rectangle below.
    image by M. Mode (1988)

The enlargement below shows the decisive spot of the painting:

image by S. Stark (2000)

Above: Look on the whitish area beneath the lower edge of the blue rectangle: There are clearly indicated the folds of the female's robe. The detail is a striking indication that the person carries the "rectangle". Therefore, any interpretation of this piece as part of a canopy must be rejected. (Curiously, the new French drawing published at afrasiab.org, reconstructs again a canopy on the elephant.)

Below we have taken a section of Al'baums drawing to demonstrate this problem once more. The arrows point to the zones in question: a non-existing angular line (left) and the folds beneath the supposed "canopy" (right).

image by M. Mode based on Al'baum (1975)

To make an alternative suggestion: In our opinion the female represents nothing else than a musician. She plays a harp which she holds on her lap. The position of this harp-player on the very end of the elephant's back makes clear that originally there may have been depicted an entire music band, crowded together to share the limited space.

On the next page we will point to some striking parallels making our interpretation even more plausible.

Back to first page on the white elephant

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