Royal hunting parties produced a lot of noise. Musicians and “beaters” used sound to flush animals out of dense jungle and toward hunters. Here, three rows of beaters roughly form a triangle. In the rightmost row, a drum and horn help build a percussive din. In two other rows, men beat bushes with sticks as they move inward, corralling the tiger. At the center of the brush-covered mountain, a single tiger moves frantically away from the sounds, appearing multiple times as it reverses course.
—Isla Stewart, graduate student, NYU
Intro Sounds of the Hunt
Royal hunting parties produce a lot of noise as they move through the landscape. Here, Maharana Jagat Singh travels with elephants, dogs, hunters, and musicians in his pursuit of a slain tiger. The sounds and music generated by the hunting party play a large role in the endeavor’s success.
The Elephant Man
The maharana always appears astride his elephant, Meghmala. With each step, her gold anklets create a gentle metallic music that signals the maharana’s location, uniting elephant and man.
Nothing but a Hound Dog
Agile and sure-footed, the party’s hunting dogs move gracefully through the brush-covered landscape. Stretching their bodies out, the dogs run full speed in pursuit of the tiger. Their barking and howling alert the hunting party to focus their attention on a smaller area.
An Orchestra of Noise
Musicians and beaters help the hunting party trap the tiger. Horns and drums, shown at the top and bottom of this diagonal line, make a percussive din that propels the movement of the tiger. Men beating sticks and branches create a steady stream of sound that adds to the tiger’s confusion, boxing him in for the kill.
Firecrackers explode in swirling arcs of gold, adding to the musical and natural cacophony orchestrated by the beaters and musicians. The artist depicts the swirling movement of sound waves in red paint as a beater’s stick descends before the tiger. The animal quickly changes course in an attempt to escape.
Clash of Claws
A gunshot rings across the landscape as the hunters draw their swords, daggers and spears. Human shouts, cries of anguish and grunts of exertion fill the air as the men face down a desperate tiger. The tiger gores the central figure clutching a dagger, underscoring the danger involved in the party’s endeavors.
The hunting party’s triumph does not seem dimmed by their comrade’s demise. The artist rotates the orientation of the royal hunting party following their success. A more traditional perspective depicts the procession departing at the painting’s left. The gentle metallic jingle of Meghmala’s jewelry continues to lead the way.