Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana at the Hermitage of Bharadvaja: Illustrated folio from a dispersed Ramayana series
India (Kangra, Himachal Pradesh)
This work belongs to a series narrating the Indian epic the Ramayana. The hero of the story, Rama, accompanied by his consort, Sita, and half-brother, Lakshmana, have embarked on their fourteen-year exile from Ayutthaya, their rightful home. They are seen crossing a swiftly flowing river by ferry to reach a hermitage in a wilderness forest shelter. They are advised by the hermit to retreat to an auspicious shelter in the Chitrakuta Mountains (upper right), frequented by holymen (rishis), which is both sacred and beautiful, for the duration of their exile. Continuous narratives occur in many paintings from this series in which the artists evoke the wonderful complexity of the landscape settings so evocatively described in Valmiki’s Ramayana. In this masterpiece of Kangra court painting, the artist combined fidelity to nature with an illusionist approach to landscape, creating a dreamlike otherworld, a landscape of the imagination.
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