Textile Panel with Scenes from the Ramayana
ca. 15th century
Nepal (Kathmandu Valley)
Silk embroidery on polished cotton
Overall: 15 3/8 x 13 1/8 in. (39.1 x 33.3 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1995
Not on view
This remarkably fine Nepalese figurative embroidery is a rare survivor of an important genre of textile art. The fragment may have formed part of a stitched garment worn by Vaishnava priests officiating at major rituals festivals and worship (puja). The lappet-shaped sectionis framed by a flame-and-pearl border design, and the central field contains dramatic scenes of conflict taking place over three registers. At the top, Ravana (blue) rides in his six-wheeled makara-drawn chariot, accompanied by two demon generals and his charioteer. Below, the heroic triad of Rama, Laksmana, and Hanuman battle a white demon, possibly Ravana's brother, the giant Kumbhakarna (presumably the same demon represented in the chariot above, seated right of Ravana). The lower register depicts a further battle in which a yellow demon, perhaps Ravana's son Indrajit (also seen in Ravana's chariot), battles the monkey army. Related fragments of such ritual garments are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Los Angles County Museum of Art.