The Monkey King Vali's Funeral Pyre; from a Ramayana series
First generation after Manaku and Nainsukh
India (Himachal Pradesh, Kangra)
Ink, opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper
9 3/4 x 13 3/8 in. (24.8 x 34 cm)
Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky Fund, 2004
This complex composition illustrates multiple juxtaposed narratives. Smoke rises from the funerary pyre of the monkey king Vali, who was murdered by his brother and rival Sugriva, with the help of Rama. Monkeys throw wood on the fire and his many widows stand in mourning. At the upper left, Sugriva approaches Rama, shown in a cave, who affirms his installation as king of the monkeys. Rama’s wilderness existence is further emphasized by the sages shown sitting in front of thatched huts in the center background. In the mountains, Sugriva, Hanuman, Lakshmana, and the monkey army (but not Rama) return to their vast and impenetrable golden capital to crown the new king.