Large, free-standing stone sculptures of Rama such as this one, which probably served as the primary, immovable image in a temple (in contrast to the metal images such as no. 5 in Osher Gallery, which would have been conveyed in processions) are rare in museum collections. In the temple the Rama image would probably have been flanked by images of Sita and Lakshmana.
The sculpture’s left arm would have been raised high like that of no. 7 nearby and would have held a bow, perhaps of gold or silver. Rama has always been thought of as a superbly skilled bowman, and the bow becomes one of his primary identifiers in art. The sculpture’s right fist has a hole drilled through it, no doubt to accommodate an arrow. At the back of the head is the stub of an iron pin that once must have supported a sort of halo.
Though Rama’s divinity had been recognized for many centuries, his “temple cult”—that is, temples dedicated to him and representations made of him not in action performing heroic deeds, but in the form of an icon—became common only perhaps nine or ten centuries ago.
(Exhibition Label from The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe)