Here Ravana is represented with all ten heads, and has, dangling from the main arms, a number of miniature arms—enough to suggest twenty. Ravana’s eyes bulge and his mouths have demonic fangs, a frequent feature of depictions of Ravana. The heads have two unusual features, pointed beards and triple lines painted on the foreheads indicating a devotee of the great god Shiva, as Ravana was. Ravana’s skin is red, but his color varies from one culture to another.
One of the miniature arms is inscribed with the Telegu-language words Shri Rama. One possibility of why a Ravana puppet’s arm would be inscribed with Rama’s name is that the holy name served to affirm that the entire puppet performance was in homage to Rama. Or, perhaps the inscription was a reminder that because Ravana was so focused on and absorbed with Rama, even as an adversary, Ravana was in some sense Rama’s devotee.
(Exhibition Label from The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe)