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Episodes from the Ramayana

Episodes from the Ramayana
Availability: Can be backordered
Specifications:
Orissa's Paata Painting on Handmade Patti Paper
5.5 ft X 1.9 ft
Item Code: PC65
Price: $305.00
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This excellently rendered splendid large Orissa 'pata', 22 inch wide and 66 inch long, depicts three episodes of Rama-katha (Ramayana), two from Kishkindha Kanda and one from Lanka Kanda. Despite multiplicity of depicted events the artist has preferred not to divide his canvas into compartments for serialising them for this could break the visual unity of his depiction and spoil the charm of his landscape which in its present form is so absolute. Hence, despite that it depicts three independent and detached events of the Rama-katha, the visual impact of the entire 'pata' and of the landscapic background is absolute and unified. The 'pata' is a quasi-folk art form not governed so much by academic art discipline as by its visual impact and by multiplication of visual symbols, motifs and patterns, sometimes inducting a remote symbolism and sometimes only appealing to vision. Alike, in this 'pata' the terrain has been sprinkled with figures of various animals, to vision a mere decorative element but symbolically as much an essential of Rama-katha, as in his battle against Ravana Rama had greater support of different animal clans than that of human beings.

The episode related to Lakshmana's wrath and Sugriva's humble submission covers almost the left half of the canvas. On assurance that Sugriva's monkeys would assist Rama in discovering Sita Rama had killed Bali and enthroned Sugriva as Kishkindha's king. Rama and Lakshmana expected that after Sugriva had been enthroned, he would deploy the army of his monkeys to gather information as to where Ravana had captivated Sita. But on the contrary Sugriva had forgotten all about it. For months he had not come out of his cave-palace and was busy with his queens in merriment and lustful pursuits. Rama was aggrieved but never gave vent to his feelings, though his grief often mirrored on his face. Lakshmana was not that tolerant. He was annoyed even with Rama for not saying a word to ungrateful Sugriva who had forgotten all his promises after becoming Kishkindha's king. One day he announced that he would punish the ungrateful Sugriva and destroy Kishkindha along with Sugriva and his entire army. Rama somehow cooled Lakshmana, though he allowed him to express his displeasure, which, he felt, would be enough to put Sugriva and his monkeys to become active in the matter.

Enraged Lakshmana went to Sugriva's cave-palace and commanded Sugriva angrily to immediately come out of his cave or he would destroy his entire Kishkindha. Sugriva's queen rushed to him and informed him of Lakshmana's displeasure. He along with his monkey courtiers appeared with folded hands before Lakshmana and realising his guilt apologized for not keeping his words. He assured him that he and his monkeys would instantly set out in search of Sita. Monkeys were immediately dispatched into different direction but by then it had become obvious that Ravana had taken her to Lanka across ocean. Spanning ocean was not so easy. But Hanumana finally undertook the errand and with his hidden inherent mystic powers flew towards Lanka across the ocean. The 'pata', towards the upper side of its right half, depicts Hanumana flying into air towards Ravana's kingdom. In chronological sequence this episode is prior to the battle between Rama and Ravana, but in the 'pata' in spatial sequence it has been rendered subsequently. This is in keeping with the spirit of folk vision where the intensity of an experience or vision over-rides the sense of chronology and space.

This right half of the 'pata' also portrays the climax of Rama-Ravana's battle. Despite his tremendous efforts Rama was unable to kill Ravana. Rama fought from ground while Ravana moved in his chariot often above the ground, hence his arrows did not hit him straight nor did him any harm. Meanwhile Ravana's brother Vibhishana had joined Rama's camp. Realising his master's dilemma he disclosed to him that Ravana contained nectar in his navel and unless it dried off, he would not be killed. From ground level Rama could not hit him at his navel and under the pledge he had taken when was exiled from Ayodhya he would not ride any vehicle. As always Hanumana emerged as the benefactor. With Angada's help he lifted Rama on his back and raised him to the level of Ravana's chariot. Rama could now hit Ravana straight into his navel. Using an 'agni-vana', the arrow emitting fire, Rama first burnt and extinct the nectar contained in Ravana's navel and then killed Ravana, the last in the battle-field. Right to its centre the 'pata' depicts Vibhishana indicating with his finger Ravana's navel. Jamban is handing over to Rama the arrow which emitted fire and was capable to burn the nectar contained in Ravana's navel. The ten headed Ravana is seen riding a splendid air borne chariot. The sky is filled with lamp like motifs, again a folk element, decorative as well as symbolical for Rama's victory over Ravana led to the festival of light, the Deepavali.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.


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Of Related Interest:

Ramayana Tales Retold (Miniature Painting On Paper)

Lakshmana Severes the Nose of Swarupanakha (Miniature Painting On Paper)

Brothers in Arms (Kalamkari Painting on Cotton)

Dashanana, or the Ten Headed Demon King of Lanka (Brass Lost Wax Sculpture)

Sari Which Tells the Story of the Ramayana (Pure Cotton Sari)

Ramayana (Paperback Book)

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