I knew about Zarafa, the early-19th-century Parisian sensation, and how she inspired Charlotte Moss, but until this weekend I wasn't familiar with another pop star, an elephant named Suleyman, and his decade-long, roughly 9,300-mile international journey which took place centuries before Zarafa came along. A book about Suleyman's remarkable life is new to the V & A gift shop.
[Alexander gift, Victoria and Albert Museum.]
Of course, discovering the book inspired me to look at some of the elephants in the V & A's collection. Here's what grabbed my attention. Above, a circa 1775-1850 Japanese inro. It is worn wood with grey and gold lacquer and glazed pottery. (More about inro here.)
[The Noble Game of Elephant and Castle or Traveling in Asia by William Darton. The V & A.]
A beautiful hand-colored engraved children's board game from 1822.
[Given by G.D. Hornblower, Esq. The V & A.]
And an Earthenware Egyptian filter (from a water-jar) with pierced and incised decoration dated 11th-12th century. This delicate lace-like pierced detail reminds me to mention a recently opened exhibition, The Royal Wedding Dress: A Story of Great British Design, on view at Buckingham Palace through October 3, 2011.
[Screengrab, The Royal Wedding Dress.]
I'll sidestep the "headless bride" debate and just point out the helpful microsite podcast with Royal Collection curator Caroline de Guitaut. The feature, along with the online image gallery, offers new details about the fabric and craftsmanship of the dress.
You might also like:
Textile of the Day
Symphony in White
Vogue's View: A Royal Wedding in 1960
[Image via John Alexander.]