Before stretch Hummers

Detail of a Santal wedding scene on a 20th century <span style="">palkee</span> panel.

Detail of a Santal wedding scene on a 20th century palkee panel.

If it’s an American wedding, the limo reigns as the official transport of choice, with maybe a horse and carriage thrown in here and there for nostalgia’s sake. But in northern India, especially in the Bihar state, the Santal tribe uses palkee. These vessels of carved wood are carried on the shoulders—not of the stereotypical elephant—but of four or more human pole bearers. See for yourself when Palkee: Wedding Conveyances of North India opens this Saturday at the Crocker Art Museum. The exhibit not only features a complete palkee (sans pole bearers), but also 13 panels. Some date to 1855 and others were carved in the last century. A small wedding ceremony and a foot-washing ritual decorate two of the panels. Others depict everyday scenes carved in a tribal folk-art style to christen the ride to a new life of wedded bliss. The exhibit runs through May 6 at the Crocker, located at 216 O Street. For more information call (916) 264-5423 or visit