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The Hindu deity Rama
Place of Origin: India, Karnataka state, former kingdom of Vijayanagara
Date: approx. 1400-1500
Materials: Granite and iron
Dimensions: H. 106 in x W. 28 in x D. 14 in (overall) , H. 269.2 cm x W. 71.1 cm x D. 35.6 cm
Credit Line: The Avery Brundage Collection
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Sculpture
Object Number: B60S53+
On Display: Yes
Location: Gallery 4

Description

Label: Rama, the hero of the great Indian epic the Ramayana, is an incarnation of the deity Vishnu. He is recognizable here by his appearance as a kingly warrior raising his left arm (now broken) to brandish a bow. Vishnu descends to earth in the form of Rama to overcome a mighty ten-headed demon king, and to restore order. In the story of the Ramayana, Rama is appointed heir to the throne by his father, the king. Complicated circumstances make it impossible for Rama to assume the throne on the king's death, however, and he goes into exile in the forest with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. The ten-headed demon king manages to kidnap Sita and take her back to his kingdom, where she is held prisoner. Rama, with his allies the monkeys and bears, attacks the demon's capital, and, after a prolonged and bloody battle, rescues his wife. He is finally able to take the throne, and begins a long, peaceful, and prosperous reign. Rama is admired not only in India but also in much of Southeast Asia as the model of a just and benevolent king.

More Information

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

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)


Label: Rama, the hero of the great Indian epic the Ramayana, is an incarnation of the deity Vishnu. He is recognizable here by his appearance as a kingly warrior raising his left arm (now broken) to brandish a bow. Vishnu descends to earth in the form of Rama to overcome a mighty ten-headed demon king, and to restore order. In the story of the Ramayana, Rama is appointed heir to the throne by his father, the king. Complicated circumstances make it impossible for Rama to assume the throne on the king's death, however, and he goes into exile in the forest with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. The ten-headed demon king manages to kidnap Sita and take her back to his kingdom, where she is held prisoner. Rama, with his allies the monkeys and bears, attacks the demon's capital, and, after a prolonged and bloody battle, rescues his wife. He is finally able to take the throne, and begins a long, peaceful, and prosperous reign. Rama is admired not only in India but also in much of Southeast Asia as the model of a just and benevolent king.
Exhibition History: "The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe," Asian Art Museum, October 21, 2015–January 15, 2017
Expanded Label:

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)