Oct 17, 2011

The mendicant’s wife deceives him with a soldier, from a Tuti-nama (Tales of a Parrot): Fourth Night

The mendicant’s wife deceives him with a soldier, from a Tuti-nama (Tales of a Parrot): Fourth Night

c. 1560

Part of a set. See all set records

Mughal India, court of Akbar

(reigned 1556–1605)

Gum tempera, ink, and gold on paper

Painting only: 9.1 x 10.6 cm (3 9/16 x 4 3/16 in.); Overall: 20 x 13.5 cm (7 7/8 x 5 5/16 in.)

Gift of Mrs. A. Dean Perry 1962.279.26.b

Location

Did you know?

Discoloration around the elephant’s face and legs indicate that his body has been repositioned.

Description

According to this story, written in Persian, a skilled yogi in India reached such a high level of practice that he was able to perform acts of transformation. Anxious to prevent his wife from committing adultery, he transformed himself into an elephant and carried her hidden in a howdah on his back and stayed only in the deep forest, away from men. One day, when the elephant was out foraging for food, a lone soldier came upon the wife, and they made love. The moral of the story is that no matter how extreme the lengths to which one might go to prevent adultery, if someone is inclined to do so, it will happen.

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