The Sultan’s Elephant was a show created by the Royal de Luxe theatre company, involving a huge moving mechanical elephant, a giant marionette of a girl and other associated public art installations. In French it was called La visite du sultan des Indes sur son éléphant à voyager dans le temps (literally, “Visit from the Sultan of the Indies on His Time-Travelling Elephant”). The show was commissioned to commemorate the centenary of Jules Verne’s death, by the two French cities of Nantes and Amiens, funded by a special grant from the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. The show was performed at various locations around the world between 2005 and 2006.
Inspired by the Sultan’s Elephant, an interactive show featuring a mechanized elephant, the massive robot looks surprisingly lifelike aside from a few nuts and bolts and some joints at the trunk and legs showing.
A robotic miracle made from 45 tons of recycled materials, measuring 12 meters high and 8 meters wide. It can carry up to 49 passengers.
When the majestic animal goes out for its walk, it is like architecture in motion departing a steel cathedral. The 49 passengers on board embark on an amazing journey on the Ile de Nantes. Each time the pachyderm goes out, it is a unique spectacle for everyone to enjoy.
From the inside, the passengers will be able to see the moving gears that power the legs. They can make the elephant trumpet and control some its movements, thus becoming truly a part of the Machine.
The Original elephant was designed by François Delarozière. It was made mostly of wood, and was operated by 22 ‘manipulateurs’ using a mixture of hydraulics and motors. It weighed 42 tons, as much as seven African elephants.
[With] hundreds of moving parts and scores of pumping pistons (22 in the trunk alone), the elephant appealed to the same part of the British psyche that admires Heath Robinson contraptions and reveres eccentric inventors. More than 56 square metres of reclaimed poplar was combined with steel ribs to create the elephant’s sturdy skeleton. The attention to detail was extraordinary, from the flapping leather ears and deep wrinkles around the eyes to the puffs of dust sent up by its plodding feet, and the snaking, reticulated trunk.
The elephant no longer exists: Helen Marriage of Artichoke, the company that produced the London performance, said “Royal de Luxe were so fed up with being invited all over the world to perform The Sultan’s Elephant, they just destroyed it.”
A non-exact replica, Le Grand Eléphant (The Great Elephant) was built in Nantes (France) in 2007, as part of the Machines of the Isle of Nantes permanent exhibition. It is 20 feet tall.
Do Not miss the Video. Its a Marvelous Experience to see this recycled Mamoth in action.