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Scenes from the last book of the Ramayana (Epic of Rama)
Place of Origin: India, Bihar state, Mithila region
Date: 1981
Materials: Ink and colors on paper
Style or Ware: Mithila or Madhubani
Dimensions: H. 59 5/8 in x W. 60 1/4 in, H. 151.4 cm x W. 153 cm (overall); H. 63 1/4 in x W. 63 1/4 in, H. 160.7 cm x W. 160.7 cm (framed)
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: 1999.39.50
On Display: No

Description

Label:

The twelve registers arranged around the central enthronement scene in this painting deal with the tragic outcome of Rama's relationship with his wife, Sita. After she is abducted by the demon king Ravana and rescued by Rama, Sita must prove her chastity through an ordeal by fire. (A Balinese painting of this episode can be seen in Gallery 11, Southeast Asia after 1800.) Gossip about Sita's purity continues long after Rama's enthronement at Ayodhya, so Rama banishes his now-pregnant wife. Some of the inner scenes in this painting depict Sita being led into the wilderness. Just below the enthronement scene, she meets Valmiki, the sage who will shelter her in his hermitage.

Sita gives birth to the twins Kusha and Lava, who appear several times here. Within the large arc at the right-hand side of the painting, the twins, accompanied by Valmiki, meet Rama. Many years have passed since Rama last saw Sita, and he sends for her, promising to take her back if she can prove her purity once and for all. In the lowest arc of the painting, Rama, Lakshmana, and Hanuman, together with Valmiki and the twins, watch as Sita descends into the earth. Sita has summoned the earth goddess to swallow her up as final proof of her unwavering faith to her husband. Through his own lack of faith in Sita, Rama thus loses her forever.

This painting, like the one to the left, comes from the region of Mithila, where such works were traditionally painted on walls by village women to celebrate the occasion of a marriage or a festival.


More Information

Inscriptions: Inscription in Hindi runs along the lower edge:

Subject: Ramayana painting, Lav-kush Kand
Artist Name: Shashikala Devi
Place: Raanchi [or Raanti or Raandhi]; Madhubani, Bihar

Inscription in English on verso:

A.90
P-81-62
Sashi Kala Devi
Ranti [neighborhood of Madhubani, India]
Ramayana after the death of Ravana

Exhibition History: "The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe," Asian Art Museum, October 21, 2015–January 15, 2017
Additional Label:

In this painting, multiple episodes from the last book of Valmiki’s Ramayana are arrayed on the petals of a lotus. They tell the story of Rama’s abandonment of Sita because of rumors, her raising their sons in exile, the boys’ exploits, and Sita’s final vindication when she calls on her mother the Earth to envelop her.

(Exhibition Label from The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe)


Label:

The twelve registers arranged around the central enthronement scene in this painting deal with the tragic outcome of Rama's relationship with his wife, Sita. After she is abducted by the demon king Ravana and rescued by Rama, Sita must prove her chastity through an ordeal by fire. (A Balinese painting of this episode can be seen in Gallery 11, Southeast Asia after 1800.) Gossip about Sita's purity continues long after Rama's enthronement at Ayodhya, so Rama banishes his now-pregnant wife. Some of the inner scenes in this painting depict Sita being led into the wilderness. Just below the enthronement scene, she meets Valmiki, the sage who will shelter her in his hermitage.

Sita gives birth to the twins Kusha and Lava, who appear several times here. Within the large arc at the right-hand side of the painting, the twins, accompanied by Valmiki, meet Rama. Many years have passed since Rama last saw Sita, and he sends for her, promising to take her back if she can prove her purity once and for all. In the lowest arc of the painting, Rama, Lakshmana, and Hanuman, together with Valmiki and the twins, watch as Sita descends into the earth. Sita has summoned the earth goddess to swallow her up as final proof of her unwavering faith to her husband. Through his own lack of faith in Sita, Rama thus loses her forever.

This painting, like the one to the left, comes from the region of Mithila, where such works were traditionally painted on walls by village women to celebrate the occasion of a marriage or a festival.


Inscriptions: Inscription in Hindi runs along the lower edge:

Subject: Ramayana painting, Lav-kush Kand
Artist Name: Shashikala Devi
Place: Raanchi [or Raanti or Raandhi]; Madhubani, Bihar

Inscription in English on verso:

A.90
P-81-62
Sashi Kala Devi
Ranti [neighborhood of Madhubani, India]
Ramayana after the death of Ravana

Exhibition History: "The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe," Asian Art Museum, October 21, 2015–January 15, 2017
Expanded Label:

In this painting, multiple episodes from the last book of Valmiki’s Ramayana are arrayed on the petals of a lotus. They tell the story of Rama’s abandonment of Sita because of rumors, her raising their sons in exile, the boys’ exploits, and Sita’s final vindication when she calls on her mother the Earth to envelop her.

(Exhibition Label from The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe)