The Elephant Who Was Death

Unknown artist(s), Ahmendabad, Gujarat, India. One More Drop  of Honey, early 20th  century. Promised gift from the Ronald and  Maxine Linde Collection

Ronald and Maxine Linde have promised a collection of Jain devotional hangings (chhoda) to the Fowler Museum, UCLA. A sample is now on view in a one-room exhibition, "Visualizing Devotion: Jain Embroidered Shrine Hangings" (through Mar. 26, 2023). 

Chhoda typically represent ancient allegories that still resonate. In One More Drop of Honey, the man at left, suspended in space, is Everyperson. Pursued by an elephant (Death), he saves himself by hanging from a tree limb. Two rats (representing the human life span) gnaw on the limb. The man is poised between a fantastic carriage at upper center (Religion) and a well containing deadly serpents (the deadly sins of Anger, Pride, and Greed). He tells himself he wants nothing more than one more drop of honey (Pleasure) from a beehive as the bees (Everyday Problems) sting him. What is to become of him, and us?

Two Attendants and the Wish-Fulfilling Tree, Gujarat, India, about 18th century. Promised gift from the Ronald and  Maxine Linde Collection.
This is one of the earliest hangings in the Linde collection, believed to date from the Mughal period. It is made from silk, burlap, gold and silver-gilt thread, glass beads, yak-tail hair, and beetle wing. 
Installation view with recreation of a contemporary home shrine. The hanging (Wish-Fulfilling Tree, 2012) is lent by Dr. Jayesh Shah