Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Temple hanging depicting scenes from the Ramayana


    • currently in research collection

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Publications online

  • Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum by J. C. Harle and Andrew Topsfield

    Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum

    Temple-hangings of this type had a didactic purpose, surrounding the central panel showing the deity with numerous mythological narrative scenes arranged in compartmented registers in the manner of a cartoon strip. Their stylistic conventions followed local traditions of temple mural-painting, which in the far south were untouched by Mughal influences from northern India. The outlines were stenciled on the cotton ground and then freely painted by hand with dye-colours; the mordant dyeing process was also used for some colours. In this hanging the central panel depicts the god Rāma enthroned with his wife Sītā and attended by his three brothers, under an arching canopy supporting three gopura (temple towers) and celestial figures. Scenes from the Rāmāyaṇa epic occupy eight registers, divided by narrow bands inscribed with Telegu commentary. The overall effect is somberly rich and eventful, even though the pictorial forms have become stereotyped by the late 19th century. A comparable example is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (I.S.75-1886, purchased from the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition; see Jayakar and Irwin) and a more modern version is in the Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad (see Irwin and Hall).

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