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The demon giant Kumbhakarna fights Prince Rama's armies of monkeys and bears on the island of Lanka, from a manuscript of the Ramayana (Epic of Rama)
Place of Origin: India, Possibly Madhya Pradesh state, former kingdom of Datia
Date: approx. 1605
Materials: Opaque watercolors and gold on paper
Style or Ware: Mughal
Dimensions: H. 10 1/2 in x W. 7 1/4 in, H. 26.7 cm x W. 18.4 cm
Credit Line: Gift of the Connoisseurs' Council with additional funding from Fred M. and Nancy Livingston Levin, the Shenson Foundation, in memory of A. Jess Shenson
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: 2003.3
On Display: No

Description

Label: In many Hindu sacred stories, animals possess intelligence and moral consciousness. Some animals, like other heroes, aid the deities in their ongoing efforts to preserve justice and peace on earth. Some appear as demons in animal guise, in which case they are being controlled by a higher being. The assistance of animals is critical in the Ramayana, the story of Prince Rama (who, like Krishna, is an incarnation of the god Vishnu). Much of the Ramayana describes Rama's attempts to rescue his wife, who has been abducted by a demon king. Rama is successful mainly because of the support of his monkey and bear forces. The monkey armies, led by Hanuman (not identifiable here), are characterized by their immense strength and courage. Because of his devotion and unceasing loyalty to Rama, Hanuman is also revered as a divinity. This painting shows the demon giant Kumbhakarna being assaulted by Rama's army. The focus is not on Rama (the blue figure at lower right) but instead on the bear and monkey soldiers. These untraditional warriors are shown in humanlike poses, with weapons such as a matchlock rifle, bows, and swords.

More Information

Inscriptions: Rāvaṇa addresses Kumbhakarṇa:

[गच्छ शत्रु]वधाय त्वं कुम्भकर्ण जयाय च।
“O Kumbhakarṇa, [go]
to victory and kill [our enemies]!

असहायस्य गमनं मम बुद्ध्या न रोचते ।।
having contemplated your going without assistance
I am unnerved,

तस्मात्प[रमदुर्धर्षैः सै]न्यैः परिवृतो व्रज ।
so, go flanked by troops,
[unconquerable even by the best].”

अथासनात्समुथाय मणिं सुर्यसमप्रभं ।
आबबन्ध म[हातेजाः] कुंभकर्णस्य मस्तके ।।
Now, Rāvaṇa, [energy ablaze], rising from his seat,
to Kumbhakarṇa’s head affixed
a gem, as radiant as the sun.

अंगदान्यंगुलीवेष्टान् कवचं च महाघनं।
हारं च शशि सं[काशं स बबं]ध महात्मन: ।।
That noble one [fastened] also
arm cuffs, rings, thick armor,
and a strand of pearls [resembling] the moon.

गात्रेषु योजयामास कुंडले च महाभुजः ।
And Rāvaṇa, strong of arm,
clasped his limbs and hung a pair of earrings.

कुंभकर्णो महाबाहर् [हुतोन]ल इवाबभौ ।
Kumbhakarṇa, strong of arm,
appeared like [a fire full of offerings].

श्रोणीसूत्रेण महता कांचनेन विराजता ।
Radiant was he,
with an immense golden belt.

स पुरद्वारमाश्रित्य राक्षसो [घोरदर्श]नः ।
That Rākṣasa, who was [a fearsome sight],
made his way to the city gates.

निः पपात महातेजाः कुंभकर्णो प्रतापवान्।
Kumbhakarṇa, went forth,
energy ablaze and full of zeal.

कुम्भकर्णो महावक्त्र: प्रहसन्वा[क्यं अ]ब्रवीत्।।
With his enormous mouth, Kumbhakarṇa laughed
and spoke these words:

पुररोधस्य मूलं तु राघवः सहलक्ष्मणः।
हते तस्मिन्हतं सर्वं तं हनिष्या[मि सं]युगे ।।
“Rāma together with Lakṣmaṇa
is at the root of the siege on this city!
I will kill him in battle;
and when he is killed the rest will be too!”

स नि: क्रम्य पुरद्वारात्कुंभकर्णो महाबलः।
Mighty Kumbhakarṇa departed from the city gates.

ते दृष्ट्वा वानरश्रेष्ठाः राक्षसं प[र्वतो]पमं ।
वायुक्षिप्ता [य]था मेघा ययुः सर्वा दिशस्तदा ।।
All the best of monkeys then,
seeing that mountain-like rākṣasa,
took flight in every direction, like clouds scattered by the wind.

तांस्तु विदृवतो दृष्ट्वा राजपुत्रो [अंग] दो ऽब्रवीत्।
And seeing them flee, Prince Aṅgada spoke:

क्व गछत भयत्रस्ता प्राकृता हरयो यथा ।
“where are you going, quaking with fear
as if you were regular old monkeys?”

सर्वे सौम्या निवर्तध्वं किं प्र[ाणान्] परिरक्षथ ।
“My dear friends turn back, all of you!
Why just save your own lives?”

कृछ्रेण महताश्वस्ता शंस्तभ्य च परस्परं ।
शिलापादपहस्ता[स्ते त]स्थुः संग्राममूर्द्धनि।।
After they composed themselves with great difficulty,
they encouraged one another
and [took their places] on the frontlines, rocks and trees [in hand].

ममंथ परमायस्तो वनान्यग्निरिवोत्थितः।।
[Kumbhakarṇa] who was more than vexed, tore around
like a raging fire ignited in a forest.

लोहिता[क्ता हि ब]हवः शेरते बानरर्षभाः।
Many of those bulls among monkeys were just laying there,
[for they were encrusted] in blood.

अंगदः कुमुदो नीलो गवाक्षश्चंदनो हरिः ।
मैंदो ऽथ [द्विविद]श्चैव जांबवान्विनतस्तदा ।
युगपद्व्यहनत्सर्वे कुंभ्कर्णं महाबलाः।
Then, those mighty monkeys:
Aṅgada, Kumuda, Nīla, and Gavākṣa; the monkey Candana,
and Mainda also; and even [Dvivida], Jāmbavān, and Vinata,
all together attacked Kumbhakarṇa.
Exhibition History: "The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe," Asian Art Museum, October 21, 2015–January 15, 2017
Additional Label:

The appearance in the Rama epic of Kumbhakarna, Ravana’s giant brother, provides moments of humor as well as pathos. He is in every sense larger than life, with a gargantuan appetite and the ability to sleep through the most extreme efforts to wake him. But despite his caricature-like depiction, he surprises the epic’s audience with his fearless and well-reasoned criticisms of Ravana’s actions and his loyalty to the point of death.

Though he condemns Ravana’s refusal to release Sita and prevent war, he nevertheless fights bravely on Ravana’s side. Here he battles Rama’s monkey warriors. Rama and Lakshmana watch the struggle from the lower right corner. Rama will soon come to the monkeys’ aid and kill Kumbhakarna.

A long inscription on the back of the painting tells of Ravana sending Kumbhakarna into battle and the resulting bloody conflict with the monkeys.

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


Label: In many Hindu sacred stories, animals possess intelligence and moral consciousness. Some animals, like other heroes, aid the deities in their ongoing efforts to preserve justice and peace on earth. Some appear as demons in animal guise, in which case they are being controlled by a higher being. The assistance of animals is critical in the Ramayana, the story of Prince Rama (who, like Krishna, is an incarnation of the god Vishnu). Much of the Ramayana describes Rama's attempts to rescue his wife, who has been abducted by a demon king. Rama is successful mainly because of the support of his monkey and bear forces. The monkey armies, led by Hanuman (not identifiable here), are characterized by their immense strength and courage. Because of his devotion and unceasing loyalty to Rama, Hanuman is also revered as a divinity. This painting shows the demon giant Kumbhakarna being assaulted by Rama's army. The focus is not on Rama (the blue figure at lower right) but instead on the bear and monkey soldiers. These untraditional warriors are shown in humanlike poses, with weapons such as a matchlock rifle, bows, and swords.
Inscriptions: Rāvaṇa addresses Kumbhakarṇa:

[गच्छ शत्रु]वधाय त्वं कुम्भकर्ण जयाय च।
“O Kumbhakarṇa, [go]
to victory and kill [our enemies]!

असहायस्य गमनं मम बुद्ध्या न रोचते ।।
having contemplated your going without assistance
I am unnerved,

तस्मात्प[रमदुर्धर्षैः सै]न्यैः परिवृतो व्रज ।
so, go flanked by troops,
[unconquerable even by the best].”

अथासनात्समुथाय मणिं सुर्यसमप्रभं ।
आबबन्ध म[हातेजाः] कुंभकर्णस्य मस्तके ।।
Now, Rāvaṇa, [energy ablaze], rising from his seat,
to Kumbhakarṇa’s head affixed
a gem, as radiant as the sun.

अंगदान्यंगुलीवेष्टान् कवचं च महाघनं।
हारं च शशि सं[काशं स बबं]ध महात्मन: ।।
That noble one [fastened] also
arm cuffs, rings, thick armor,
and a strand of pearls [resembling] the moon.

गात्रेषु योजयामास कुंडले च महाभुजः ।
And Rāvaṇa, strong of arm,
clasped his limbs and hung a pair of earrings.

कुंभकर्णो महाबाहर् [हुतोन]ल इवाबभौ ।
Kumbhakarṇa, strong of arm,
appeared like [a fire full of offerings].

श्रोणीसूत्रेण महता कांचनेन विराजता ।
Radiant was he,
with an immense golden belt.

स पुरद्वारमाश्रित्य राक्षसो [घोरदर्श]नः ।
That Rākṣasa, who was [a fearsome sight],
made his way to the city gates.

निः पपात महातेजाः कुंभकर्णो प्रतापवान्।
Kumbhakarṇa, went forth,
energy ablaze and full of zeal.

कुम्भकर्णो महावक्त्र: प्रहसन्वा[क्यं अ]ब्रवीत्।।
With his enormous mouth, Kumbhakarṇa laughed
and spoke these words:

पुररोधस्य मूलं तु राघवः सहलक्ष्मणः।
हते तस्मिन्हतं सर्वं तं हनिष्या[मि सं]युगे ।।
“Rāma together with Lakṣmaṇa
is at the root of the siege on this city!
I will kill him in battle;
and when he is killed the rest will be too!”

स नि: क्रम्य पुरद्वारात्कुंभकर्णो महाबलः।
Mighty Kumbhakarṇa departed from the city gates.

ते दृष्ट्वा वानरश्रेष्ठाः राक्षसं प[र्वतो]पमं ।
वायुक्षिप्ता [य]था मेघा ययुः सर्वा दिशस्तदा ।।
All the best of monkeys then,
seeing that mountain-like rākṣasa,
took flight in every direction, like clouds scattered by the wind.

तांस्तु विदृवतो दृष्ट्वा राजपुत्रो [अंग] दो ऽब्रवीत्।
And seeing them flee, Prince Aṅgada spoke:

क्व गछत भयत्रस्ता प्राकृता हरयो यथा ।
“where are you going, quaking with fear
as if you were regular old monkeys?”

सर्वे सौम्या निवर्तध्वं किं प्र[ाणान्] परिरक्षथ ।
“My dear friends turn back, all of you!
Why just save your own lives?”

कृछ्रेण महताश्वस्ता शंस्तभ्य च परस्परं ।
शिलापादपहस्ता[स्ते त]स्थुः संग्राममूर्द्धनि।।
After they composed themselves with great difficulty,
they encouraged one another
and [took their places] on the frontlines, rocks and trees [in hand].

ममंथ परमायस्तो वनान्यग्निरिवोत्थितः।।
[Kumbhakarṇa] who was more than vexed, tore around
like a raging fire ignited in a forest.

लोहिता[क्ता हि ब]हवः शेरते बानरर्षभाः।
Many of those bulls among monkeys were just laying there,
[for they were encrusted] in blood.

अंगदः कुमुदो नीलो गवाक्षश्चंदनो हरिः ।
मैंदो ऽथ [द्विविद]श्चैव जांबवान्विनतस्तदा ।
युगपद्व्यहनत्सर्वे कुंभ्कर्णं महाबलाः।
Then, those mighty monkeys:
Aṅgada, Kumuda, Nīla, and Gavākṣa; the monkey Candana,
and Mainda also; and even [Dvivida], Jāmbavān, and Vinata,
all together attacked Kumbhakarṇa.
Exhibition History: "The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe," Asian Art Museum, October 21, 2015–January 15, 2017
Expanded Label:

The appearance in the Rama epic of Kumbhakarna, Ravana’s giant brother, provides moments of humor as well as pathos. He is in every sense larger than life, with a gargantuan appetite and the ability to sleep through the most extreme efforts to wake him. But despite his caricature-like depiction, he surprises the epic’s audience with his fearless and well-reasoned criticisms of Ravana’s actions and his loyalty to the point of death.

Though he condemns Ravana’s refusal to release Sita and prevent war, he nevertheless fights bravely on Ravana’s side. Here he battles Rama’s monkey warriors. Rama and Lakshmana watch the struggle from the lower right corner. Rama will soon come to the monkeys’ aid and kill Kumbhakarna.

A long inscription on the back of the painting tells of Ravana sending Kumbhakarna into battle and the resulting bloody conflict with the monkeys.

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