The time when AIR-INDIA got Salvador Dali to Design an Ashtray for International First class Passengers.

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 Salvador Dali. Eccentric. Whimsical. Capricious. Quirky. Supremely gifted as an artist. And a man of many whims.

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Salvador Dali shows Jot Singh, Air-India's Publicity man for Europe, his creation - the swan. The swan is so designed that seen upside down, it becomes an elephant. One such swan and two elephants (inverted swans) form the supports of the ashtray Dali has created for Air-India. The ashtray top is composed of shell-shape centre encircled by a serpent. The airline will make a limited quantity for presentation as gifts.
Air-India, Public Relations 1968

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Designed by Salvador Dalí
Decorated by Jules Teissonniere
Manufactured by: Limoges

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The exact number of ashtrays designed for Air India varies throughout the internet. Popular views are 275-500, but here can be seen Ashtray numbered 662 & 671, i have also seen 614, 680, 793, 784, 839, 859.

The ashtray below has Roman numerals CLXVI which amounts to 166. The serpent is not painted here.

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"The ashtray is approximately 4" x 3" across and 2 1/2" tall. Ashtray is mostly unglazed porceline with a glazed serpent around the lip of the ashtray.

 

From the booklet that accompanied it:

"The ashtray is composed of a shell-shaped centre with a serpent twined around its perimeter. It is supported by two surrealist elephant-heads and a swan. These supports are based on Dali´s double-image effect. The master explains: "The reflection of an elephant´s head looks like a swan and the reflection of a swan appears to be an elephant. This is what I have done for the ashtray. The swan up-side-down becomes an elephant´s head and the elephant inverted - a swan."

It is the first time that an artist of such world stature has designed an "objet d´art" for an airline. And we at Air-India are honoured and delighted to be able to present this most unusual ashtray to you."

The ashtray revealed a ‘double image': the body of the ashtray shaped like the operculum of a shell is embraced by a serpent inspired by one of Gala's bracelets; the same one she is wearing in the portrait "Galarina", that her lover had made for her in 1945. The sculpture stands on three surrealist legs, on one side is an elephant head flanked on each side by a swan. It was in 1930 that Dali began developing his "discovery of the ‘double image' effect through a ‘paranoia critical method' by which, without the slightest figurative modification to its anatomy, an object can take on an entirely different appearance." The Swan-Elephant ashtray illustrates how the shadow and shapes of the elephant can easily be taken for those of the swan and vice-versa. So the inverted swan becomes an elephant and the elephant head when inverted becomes a swan.

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Dali seen here with Malcolm Berreto Air-India's Manager for France in 1967.

This unusual piece of art was presented to art lovers and friends of Air India globally. One such piece was also presented to Prince Juan Carlos of Spain (now King of Spain) in 1967.

In return, Señor Dali would like a baby elephant’

CLICK ON THE VIDEO TO VIEW SALVADOR DALI AND RESIDENTS OF CADAQUES, FRANCE REJOICING THE ARRIVAL OF ELEPHANT, SENT AS A REMUNERATION BY AIR-INDIA.

VIDEO COURTESY: RTVE.ES

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From my collection Original photo of the ceremony.

Salvador Dali can be seen next to the Baby elephant holding his stick on one hand and his Wife's hand on the other , with the Mahout trying to steer the Baby Elephant, His Wife Gala is behind the Mahout. Also 2 Hostesses can be seen holding a customary welcome thali(plate) 

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Salvador Dali designed a surrealist ashtray for Air India in 1967 and asked for an elephant as payment, Air India flew a two-year-old elephant from Bangalore, accompanied by a mahout (keeper), to Geneva. The elephant (Big Baby) was trucked to Cadaqués,  cleared through customs . The mahout then guided the elephant to Dali’s house, the Elephant was walked up to a glass stage, where the bewildered villagers danced around him in celebration.“

The mayor of Cadaqués declared three days of holiday to celebrate the arrival of the elephant. There was a special parade that was organised at the plaza and a special drink that was prepared with wine and Indian tea, and pink champagne (Dali’s favourite) was served. An Indian astrologer was flown from Bombay to take part in the festivities.“

All images shown here are taken from the internet, they do not constitute a part of my collection. All credits to the original uploaders and copyright holders.