Nature’s Great Masterpiece

The relationship between elephants and people goes back millennia. Elephants have been an integral part of history, religion, art,  and culture in many parts of Asia.

THAILAND-10034

Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

“Th’ unwieldy elephant, To make them mirth, us’d all his might, and wreathed. His lithe proboscis.”
-John Milton, Paradise Lost

THAILAND-10035

Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

INDIA-10778

Kerala, India

 

Elephants have been important in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Ganesh, the Hindu elephant God, is worshipped as the lord of success, education,  knowledge, wisdom and wealth.

INDIA-10764

Mumbai, India

 

CAMBODIA-10157

Angkor Thom, Cambodia

 

John Kistler’s book, War Elephants,  pointed out that for over a thousand years, generals used elephants as tanks, bulldozers, and cargo trucks long before such vehicles existed. Elephants built roads, swung swords, and terrified opposing forces.

BURMA-10107NF3

Burma/Myanmar

 

BURMA-10221NF, Myanmar (Burma), 07/1994

Burma/Myanmar

 

00163_01.Sri Lanka, 1995

Sri Lanka

 

SRILANKA-10069

Sri Lanka

 

SRILANKA-10082

Sri Lanka

 

Aristotle called the elephant  “the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind.”

INDIA-10277

India

 

“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant – the only harmless great thing.”

-John Donne (English poet, 1572-1631)

INDIA-10263

Calcutta, India

 

INDIA-10923

Varanasi, India

 

16 Responses to “Nature’s Great Masterpiece”

  1. schladming…

    [...]Nature’s Great Masterpiece « Steve McCurry's Blog[...]…

  2. andrewgould Says:

    A fascinating series. All great, of course, but I was instantly drawn to the first image, with the way the elements combine.

  3. This is great, just found about it now. I’m constantly looking at your website, just like an encyclopedia and now I’ll keep returning here for sure.
    Your exhibition in Milano was great. I feel lucky I saw it. This is one of the biggest advantages of the internet, being able to get access to all these great images.
    I’ve been fascinated by your photos ever since I first saw them (I wasn’t too old), followed by the Afghan girl documentary and I think that you and your work were one of the main reasons of why photography attracted me so much and now slowly becoming my life. I can only thank you for sharing all these great photos with us.

    Radu

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Intoxicatingly beautiful!!!!

  5. RANJIT OBEROI Says:

    FIRST TIME I HAVE SEEN YOUR ANIMAL PHOTOS , INTERESTING .

  6. RANJIT OBEROI Says:

    FIRST TIME SEE YOUR ANIMAL PHOTOS, INTERESTING.

  7. Another fantastic series. As hard as I try to pick a favorite image..I find that I can’t. Each is extraordinary standing all on its own.

  8. Gosto particularmente da 1ª , pois o enquadramento ficou espetacular, e gosto da 4ª fotografia, o conjunto de cores o enquadramento e o cenário estão perfeitos.

  9. What a treat to see this great relationship!

  10. Amazing as always!

    Funny thing is that I have photographed the same elephant drawing in Varanasias in the last picture. I had choose to use it for my blog on my India travel: http://www.indijatikrai.lt/ (In Lithuanian only unfortunetly).

    Thank you, Steve, for sharing and cummunicating so much with your pictures!

    Eligijus

  11. Respected Steve,

    It’s nice to see your elephants series. There is some very sad incident is going on with the elephants in North Bengal, India. Very frequently elephants are dying in rail track. In last five year more than 30 elephants has died in rail track. Yesterday six elephants has died at a time in a collection with a goods train. This is very sad.

    Apratim Saha.

  12. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for sharing,

    Regards,
    Pawan

  13. Dear Steve. In the 1800’s when someone in the East asked someone who was thinking of going to the American West, a possible answer was, “I’m just going to see the elephant.” Which simply meant, “I’m going to see something I have never seen.” Thank you showing us your work. With every post you bring the elephant into the room.

  14. Soham Gupta Says:

    Dear Mr. McCurry,

    Glad to see your series on the elephants. It was desperately needed.

    Just yesterday, 7 elephants were killed in a train accident in West Bengal. It was extremely tragic. What’s more tragic is the fact, that the adult elephants fearlessly struggled to protect the calves, by shielding them as they neared their final moments. That’s love!

    Here’s the report: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/8021988/Seven-elephants-killed-by-speeding-train-in-India.html

    Wishing everyone peace,

    Soham

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