1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Elephants and kings: India in the optic of China

  • Location of Talk: Brooks Hall Commons 
  • Reception follows in Brooks Foyer

Elephants have been symbolic resources for kings from the times of the early civilizations, through spectacular hunts, capture and display, clearing forests of animals dangerous to the people of the kingdom, and the conspicuous consumption of ivory, all of which tended toward their extinction. Indian kingship invented the war elephant, which required the protection of wild elephants and their capture and training as adults.  This reversed prevailing royal practice, as well as the older pattern of hunting elephants for food. The works of Mark Elvin and Wen Huanran on the “retreat of the elephants” in China suggest a way of using the environmental history of China to illuminate that of India under kingship, where elephants have persisted.

Event Date: 
Friday, 3 October 2014 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Thomas R. Trautmann
Speaker Title: 
Professor Emeritus of History and Anthropology University of Michigan