“Secretary Colin Powell received this gift from Indian Minister of Home Affairs Lal Krishna Advani,” the State Department said in its remarks written at the bottom of the elephant figurine.
In fact, it is one of the less than 50 gifts among the hundreds of those received by the Secretary of State over the year by foreign dignitaries that have been selected for display at the Exhibit Hall, in the centre of Henry S Truman Building, headquarters of the State Department, official sources said.
Describing the gift, the State Department said, “with royal aplomb, the great man rides in the howdah, or canopied seat, as the mahout or guide in front leads the elephant”.
“This colourful cloisonne figurine harks back to times when elephants were an indispensable part of Indian life – for transportation, fighting battles, protecting land and traversing forests,” it said.
The elephant figurine was made by Neeru Goel, an Indian artist from Bengal, who specialises in enamelware sculptures.
The Department officials, while explaining the reason for the selection of this particular gift from India to be displayed at the exhibition hall, said that elephants are a cultural icon of the country, which over centuries have become a status symbol representing wealth, wisdom, and strength.