The Snake Charmer by Karl Wilhelm Gentz

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The Snake Charmer by Karl Wilhelm Gentz

Painting NameThe Snake Charmer
Painter NameKarl Wilhelm Gentz
Completion Date1872
Size92.7 x 59.7 cm (3' x 23½")
Current LocationPrivate collection

Snake charming was originally initiated in India, as we can read about snake deities (Nagas) and snakes protecting many gods of Hinduism in their old scriptures.

As the snake charming art cultivated, the popularity of the art drift it to the other neighbor countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and African countries like Egypt.

In India Snake charming was a practiced by a special musical organ by which it is said that snake gets charmed to the tune (scientifically snakes can’t hear anything but gets “charmed” by the movement of the snake charmer’s head). But, different countries customized snake charming according to their convenience.

This painting represents snake charmer of Egypt is playing the same trick with a long flute-like organ. Mostly the snakes’ fangs and venoms are omitted out forcefully, so they could not harm the snake charmers as well as to the public if gets slipped away from the charmer’s hands.

A boy from charmer’s side is collecting money from the spectators. The family of the snake charmer is sitting right behind him while he is performing his show. Thus, we can understand that this was a normal and non-weird thing. Having very less sources of entertainment people – at that time – watched such shows with very much interest, while the snake charmer would get their everyday meal from such everyday shows. They were the entertainers of the time. Today, snake charmers are not easily found as there are governmental rules against owning a snake and people also are very much less interested in snake-charmers’ shows as there are many other more intriguing options available.

It is a dying art and one day it will only be available in books, movies and in paintings like this.


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