rajasthani elephants

A few months before Annie was born, John's mother came to me with a little piece of John's childhood. I hadn't ever seen anything like it - five cloth elephants, wrapped in metallic ribbon, hanging on beaded stings with bells on the ends. She had hung it as a mobile over John's crib over thirty years ago and then kept it! I wasn't crazy about some of the colors. There were swatches with deep forest green, beet red, royal blue. Very primary and very boy. A little like this one I found online.

I brought the mobile back to New Orleans and found new beads at a little boutique on Magazine Street. I restrung the strains with shiny gold and pink beads. I painted over my least favorite fabric pieces with colors that were more in keeping with Annie's soon-to-be nursery. And like so many of my DIY projects, this too was very much affected by John and I sharing a car. Oh so often major improvisations take place because I'm stranded at home. Impatience leads to resourcefulness, and I found in an old sewing box a double folded fabric binding from who knows what project. I wrapped that around the wooden crossbars that held the five elephants, then tied the crossbars with embroidery thread to a mobile hanger from Pottery Barn Kids. 

It turned out to be an absolutely perfect addition to Annie's bedroom. The colors of the elephants are so rich and put a kick in an otherwise fairly neutral vibe in the room. But c'mon. The best part of this mobile has little to do with the new pink and gold beads or my sloppy paint job. What makes the mobile so incredible is that it hung over Johnny's head when he fell asleep as a baby. How cool is that? And even just this afternoon after I put Annie in her crib for a nap, I heard her reaching up to twirl the dangling elephants and make the bells ring. Love that sound. Love that girl. Love that Mary kept that mobile all this time. 

So jump ahead about six months and we were having lunch at a little Indian restaurant in Eureka Springs, Arkansas when I saw hanging elephants just like ours. Not that I dreamed that Annie's was the only one like it in the world, but I had no idea that this was like a common thing.

And even more surprising was that three of the fabrics were IDENTICAL to the fabric used in Annie's. It made me begin to wonder - what was this hanging thing after all? Mary couldn't remember where she ever came across it so many years ago. 

So I did some digging on the good ole Internet. I couldn't find much except that it's a Rajasthani thing. I'm glad you know what that means. Because of course I was educated and worldly enough to also know. Ha - I can't even lock it in my brain for long enough to correctly spell it as I type. So I turned to my trusty friend Wikipedia and she told me that Rajasthan is the largest state in the Republic of India. And that was the extent to my research because there really wasn't an abundance of information relating to elephants. It's a Rajasthani thing and I'm good with only knowing that much. I did find this picture which must certainly serve as the inspiration.

decorated elephant
And there you have it. Some way, some how, 32 years ago, my mother-in-law stumbled upon a Rajasthani elephant mobile that danced above my husband's head as he fell asleep at night. And now it dances above my daughter's head. And I hope that because of it her dreams are sweet. Full of vibrant colors and pretty melodies.

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