25 May 2011

Elephants never forget...

 Antique shop finds: Articulated wooden elephant  
I found this rather unusual, antique Indian elephant toy in an antique shop in Lewes, Sussex. She is made of wood, hand painted and has a fabric neck enabling her head to move up and down and from side to side. Her ears flap, her truck stretches and curls and her limbs move freely - she's such sweet little elephant measuring 9 inches long by about 4.5 inches wide.
At the time, I wasn't too sure what she was - other than a toy of some sort - but further investigation has enlightened me to the fact that once upon a time, this little elephant was a marionette! Stings would have been attached to her back, head and trunk enabling her to dance and move, entertaining and delighting children.
It's so fascinating to come across a rare object like this and slowly learn more about its origins. I love that my elephant has shed her strings (particularly because not having to worry about strings getting tangled makes it so much more versatile as an ornament). Here are the images I found during my research of one of these elephant marionettes still with its strings attached:

(Image from here - can't believe an online boutique sold one of these for $350!)

If you are interested, you can also watch a rather heartbreaking short film featuring one of these elephant marionettes here (by Catherine Jayne and David Christopher)

What do you think of my elephant find? If anyone knows how old she might be, please comment! 


  1. Love your beautiful elephant - what a great find, wonder how she lost her strings, that is a story in itself :)

  2. Thanks Heidi :) Yeah I'd love to find that out. I think I'll just have to let my imagination do all the work though. x


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