An Ekka, by John Lockwood Kipling (1837-1911). The last of the three "roundels" in the book, this is one of the illustrations for Chapter VIII, "Of Horses and Mules," in Beast and Man in India (1891), p. 197. The "ekka" was, as Kipling explains, "a single-horse, springless gig," which "seems to be an indigenous carriage, and has the half-organic air that suggests antiquity." As usual, he writes with a journalistic flair and full understanding of the way of life, adding knowledgeably,

Unknown in the Deccan, Western India, and Sind as far north as Mooltan, it is the people's own "trap" from Peshawar through the Punjab, Hindustan, and parts of Bengal nearly to Calcutta. Nothing could be more characteristic than the primitive, useful, and cheaply-built machine here sketched. [211]

As in previous chapters, Kipling does not just focus on the picturesque. Here, he deplores the way in which horses were literally crippled and deformed by their elaborate training for ceremonial purposes. At first glance, the depiction on the right of A Raja's Charger (Marwar Breed) looks attractive, with the horse in its ceremonial trappings. Kipling explains, "Marwari horses are prized especially for native chiefs for their size and form" (201). But the horse's stance is unnatural, the neck strangely arched. He has already shown how this is achieved by keeping the horse tied in a certain way. He has also shown a page of cruelly-spiked "thorn bits" used in the training (p.192). He has tried to be fair and has discussed the need for such methods but it is clear that he takes the horse's part. As Elizabeth James points out, "Kipling's judgements and opinions convey a strong sense of his personality as well as of his Indian experience" (369).

Scanned images, and commentary, by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use the images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned them and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Related Material


Bryant, Julius, and Susan Weber, eds. John Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London. New York: Bard Graduate Centre Gallery; New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2017.

James, Elizabeth. "Kipling and Book Illustration." In Bryant and Weber. 361-399.

Kipling, John Lockwood. Beast and Man in India: A Popular Sketch of Indian Animals in Their Relations with the People. London: Macmillan, 1891. Internet Archive. Contributed by the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. Web. 22 January 2017.

Created 22 January 2017