Met to Show the Heroic Tale of Rama through Paintings

by August 7, 2019 0 comments

The Met, America’s prestigious museum, will showcase paintings that narrate the heroic and adventurous tale of Rama’s rescue of his wife

Created between the 17th and 19th centuries for the Rajput and Pahari courts of North India, a selection of 30 paintings will focus on one of the major epic narratives of Indian and South Asian literature, the Ramayana, composed by the Sanskrit poet Valmiki around the 5th century BC. It will go on as a year-long exhibition at The Met Fifth Avenue, South Asian Exhibition Gallery, New York.

Drawn largely from The Met’s collection, the show titled Sita and Rama: The Ramayana in Indian Painting will showcase paintings that narrate the heroic and adventurous tale of Rama’s rescue of his wife. The paintings and textiles capture the collective visual imagination of court artists to give form to the 2,500-year-old Sanskrit narrative, which consists of more than 24,000 verses.

The Ramayana is attributed to the poet-sage Valmiki (ca 400 BC) and has long been popular across South and Southeast Asia. It recounts the life of Rama, a legendary prince, whose wife, Sita, was abducted by the evil king Ravana. Together with his brother Lakshmana and his ally Hanuman, Rama assembled a massive army of monkeys and bears and travelled to Sri Lanka to confront Ravana and rescue Sita. The Ramayana also poses deep philosophical questions about kingship, morality, and Rama’s role as a divine manifestation (avatar) of Vishnu.

The highlight of the exhibition is a rare 19th century painting titled, Tantric Form of Monkey God Hanuman which is displayed for the first time. Other great works of the exhibition include an early 19th century masterpiece Rama, Sita and Lakshmana Begin their Life in the Forest that represents the sophisticated late Pahari painting tradition, a 18th century textile piece, The Combat of Rama and Ravana and an important group of six paintings from The Shangri Ramayana series dated 1690-1710.

(The exhibition is organised by Kurt Behrendt, associate curator and will conclude in August 23, 2020.)

Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer

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