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Kumbhakarna Battles the Monkeys, approx. 1100–1200

Kumbhakarna battles the monkeys, approx. 1100–1200

Kumbhakarna battles the monkeys, from the epic Ramayana (Story of Rama), 1100–1200. Cambodia or northeastern Thailand; former kingdom of Angkor. Sandstone. The Avery Brundage Collection, B66S7.

Stories from the Indian epic Ramayana have been familiar in Cambodia and other countries of Southeast Asia for well more than a thousand years. Here is a scene from the later part of the story. The beloved wife of the hero Rama has been abducted by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. Rama, together with his allies, the monkeys, attack Lanka to rescue her. During the ensuing struggle, Ravana's brother Kumbhakarna (the largest figure) takes on the monkey warriors. They attack by the thousands, but for all their wrestling and biting and clawing they cannot overcome him. Kumbhakarna maims hundreds of monkeys and devours hundreds more. The carnage continues without resolution till Rama himself (possibly the figure at left with the head broken off) joins in, and using his most powerful weapons, is finally able to cut Kumbhakarna to pieces. This relief would probably have been positioned over a door of a Hindu temple. The face and head of the central figure were entirely restored before this relief entered the museum's collection. The restored area has been darkened to distinguish it from original areas.