May 17, 2008

British Library Ramayana

Kris especially loved this comprehensive Ramayana exhibit which included over 100 17th-century Indian manuscript paintings. We were both impressed with how many countries depicted this great epic in some form or another. Since we could not take pictures, I included the British Library website picture and explanation on how to interpret this painting.

"The Ramayana manuscripts commissioned by Rana Jagat Singh of Mewar (1628-1652) were illustrated on the grandest scale so that no episode or detail of importance was omitted. This necessitated the revival of the ancient narrative method of simultaneous narration used in both sculpture and painting. In European or Islamic illustration, each picture usually concentrates on depicting a single episode of the story - but in the Indian method, each picture might capture several episodes in the story so that the characters appear more than once in the same picture. In the example shown above, reading anti-clockwise, we can follow Rama, Bharata and Satrughna from the top of the hill, down to the river (in the lower right corner) and back up again to where they sit outside the hut."

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