Waiting for the Raja, by John Lockwood Kipling (1837-1911). This splendidly elaborate illustration in Chapter IX, "Of Elephants," in Beast and Man in India (1891) does full justice both to the animal's decorative ensemble and its docility :

If the occasion be a very grand one, a day or two will be consumed in preparations. First the forehead, trunk, and ears are painted in bold patterns in colour. This is a work of art, for the designs are often good, and the whole serai, excepting always the elephant himself, is deeply interested.... The howdah itself, a cumbrous frame of wood covered with beaten silver plates, is slung and tied with a purchase on the tail-root, and heavy cloths broidered in raised work of gold and silver thread are attached, hanging like altar cloths down the sides. A frontlet of gold and silver diaper with fringes, of fish-shaped ornaments in thin beaten silver, necklaces of large silver hawk-bells and chain work, with embossed heart-shaped pendants as big as the open hand, and hanging ornaments of chains of silver cartouches, are adjusted. A cresting of silver ornaments like small vases or fluted soup tureens, exaggerations of the knobs along a horse's crest, descend from the rear of the howdah to the tail, anklets of silver are sometimes fitted round the huge legs, and a bell is always slung at his side. The pillars of the howdah canopies, and then the canopies themselves with their finials, are fitted as the beast kneels. [257-8]

In Royal State: the finished product in full ceremonial mode (facing p.263).

It is very easy to see how closely the artist's eye observes all this. Kipling loved the intricacy of Indian ornament, which he carried over into his own designs. The top picture, minus its background, was used for the blue cloth cover of the second edition of the book, which came out in 1892 (see James 372).

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 it 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