Saturday, November 23, 2013

War Elephant Revisited

The war elephant allowed royalty and generals to engage in battle with each other in Homeric fashion.  The classic arrangement as described in Thai military manuals was to have the high-status warrior sit in the front where we would normally expect the mahout or elephant driver to be. He would be helped by two soldiers who could be found further back on the elephant. One would sit on a raised dais that functioned as an open howdah where an assortment of pole weapons were kept; the other would be the mahout who directed the elephant's movements from the rear. The difference between this classic arrangement with a 3-man crew and the four-man crew shown in the 1866 photograph in the "Lincoln letter" blog post may be the addition of a hand-gunner (possibly the second man from the right in the photo).
The war elephant and its crew were protected by an elephant guard of four infantrymen who would take up a place near to the side of each elephant leg. This was a practice that can be traced back to A.D. 1200 at least, as this artifact below shows:


Anonymous said...

Wade: I read yesterday that they have discovered okapis living in the Virunga National Park in Uganda. I knew that they lived in Uganda at the time of their discovery, but I don't think that their discoveror knew that they were living in his own colony. Take care. Sincerely Paul

Anonymous said...

Wade: I read in the paper this morning that according to the IUCN the okapi is on the brink of extinction. Sincerely Paul