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Jatayus, the heroic king of the vultures, attempts to prevent Ravana from abducting Sita, from the Ramayana (Epic of Rama)
Place of Origin: India, probably Uttar Pradesh state
Date: approx. 400-500
Materials: Terra-cotta
Dimensions: Overall: H. 15 1/4 in x W. 16 1/2 in x D. 3 in, H. 38.7 cm x W. 41.9 cm x D. 7.6 cm
Credit Line: Gift of the Connoisseurs' Council
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Sculpture
Object Number: 1988.40
On Display: Yes
Location: Gallery 1

Description

Label:

The Hindu epic known as the Ramayana, the oldest sections of which may have been composed between 750 and 500 BCE, has inspired countless works of art in South and Southeast Asia. Although numerous versions exist, the epic is generally conceived as a tale of moral righteousness, relating the story of Rama, a prince who is a form of the Hindu god Vishnu.

In this panel, Rama's wife, Sita, has just been abducted by the demon Ravana. The vulture king, Jatayu, tries to save Sita but is wounded by Ravana, who slices off Jatayu's wings with his sword. This panel shares stylistic features with terra-cottas from a fifth-century brick temple at Bhitargaon in Uttar Pradesh state, and may once have adorned the tower of a similar structure.


More Information

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

One of the earliest artworks in the exhibition, this terra-cotta plaque shows Sita being carried off by Ravana in his flying chariot, as the vulture king Jatayus tries to rescue her. Ravana has unsheathed his sword and holds it above his head ready to strike the noble vulture king. Sita looks downward, right hand across her breast as if to suggest her fear and shame. With her left hand she steadies herself as the flying chariot lurches.

Such a relief would have been one of a set of scenes from the Rama epic placed into the exterior walls of a brick temple. In following centuries more and more temple buildings, both Hindu and Buddhist, and in both India and Southeast Asia, would be decorated with series of reliefs or murals relating the Rama epic. These reliefs and murals would reinforce the sacredness of the temple space, augment its auspiciousness, and remind worshipers of the moral and ethical lessons of the epic.

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


Label:

The Hindu epic known as the Ramayana, the oldest sections of which may have been composed between 750 and 500 BCE, has inspired countless works of art in South and Southeast Asia. Although numerous versions exist, the epic is generally conceived as a tale of moral righteousness, relating the story of Rama, a prince who is a form of the Hindu god Vishnu.

In this panel, Rama's wife, Sita, has just been abducted by the demon Ravana. The vulture king, Jatayu, tries to save Sita but is wounded by Ravana, who slices off Jatayu's wings with his sword. This panel shares stylistic features with terra-cottas from a fifth-century brick temple at Bhitargaon in Uttar Pradesh state, and may once have adorned the tower of a similar structure.


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

One of the earliest artworks in the exhibition, this terra-cotta plaque shows Sita being carried off by Ravana in his flying chariot, as the vulture king Jatayus tries to rescue her. Ravana has unsheathed his sword and holds it above his head ready to strike the noble vulture king. Sita looks downward, right hand across her breast as if to suggest her fear and shame. With her left hand she steadies herself as the flying chariot lurches.

Such a relief would have been one of a set of scenes from the Rama epic placed into the exterior walls of a brick temple. In following centuries more and more temple buildings, both Hindu and Buddhist, and in both India and Southeast Asia, would be decorated with series of reliefs or murals relating the Rama epic. These reliefs and murals would reinforce the sacredness of the temple space, augment its auspiciousness, and remind worshipers of the moral and ethical lessons of the epic.

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