Monday, 28 May 2012

Adornment and Animals in India

Throughout India I was amazed at the ornamentation and adornment, even on animals, even on sculptures of animals! Elephants wearing necklaces, their faces painted in neon. Horses with their toenails (hooves) painted pink, an elaborately embroidered cloak draped over their backs and colourful fringe hanging from their foreheads for a wedding procession. Goats and dogs wearing sweaters, or if they are street dogs looked after by people who need their old sweaters for other purposes, then the dogs wear burlap sacks, but still they are looked after well enough that they have something to wear in the January cold in Delhi.

Cows are also draped with fabrics to keep off the cold, and Brahmin cows have had their sweaters or burlap sacks altered with a hole cut in the top for their hump to protrude. Working cattle wear turbans in Delhi, which turns out to be a practical consideration, rather than decorative or religious: the fabric twisted around their horns is meant to keep the horns from breaking if the cows get into a traffic accident on the overcrowded streets.

Further south the horns of cows and goats are painted in brilliant reds, blues, greens and yellows, and the streets on the way to the ancient man-made caves of Ellora are crowded with ox-carts sharing the road with cars, rickshaws and buses.

Camels are outfitted with garlands of pom poms, and so are long-haul trucks! The most elaborate trucks are painted with the eyes of a beautiful woman, covered in messages (like "Blow Horn" and "Use Dipper at Night") hand-painted in flamboyant fonts, and dripping with tassels that hang from their bumpers.

Somehow to my great regret I didn't manage to get a good picture of goats in their sweaters, but our new friends Marcio and Claudio, who we met in Agra, have some great photos of goats and cows and what they wear on their blog (in Portugese, but Google Translate does a pretty good job here). 

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