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Mandodari approaches her husband, the demon king Ravana

Mandodari approaches her husband, the demon king Ravana

Mandodari approaches her husband, the demon king Ravana, while Prince Rama and his allies convene outside the palace, from a manuscript of the Ramayana (Story of Rama), 1595–1605. Northern India. Opaque watercolors and gold on paper. Gift of the Connoisseurs’ Council with additional funding from Fred M. and Nancy Livingston Levin, the Shenson Foundation, in memory of A. Jess Shenson, 2003.4.

Label: After finally locating his abducted wife, Rama plans an assault on the island fortress of Lanka, where she has been imprisoned. As the threat of battle looms, several of Ravana's associates attempt to persuade the demon king to return Sita to her husband. Among them is Mandodari, Ravana's principal wife. In this painting Mandodari is accompanied by another woman, probably a maidservant, as she approaches Ravana in his palace chambers. Rama, identified by his blue skin, stands near his white-skinned brother Lakshmana in the lower-right-hand portion of this painting. The pair are joined by several of their monkey allies. Three of Ravana's demon guards patrol the palace and its grounds.

The earliest surviving illustrated manuscript of the Ramayana from South Asia was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Akbar (reigned 1556-1605) shortly after he ordered the text of the epic to be translated into Persian. The manuscript to which this page, as well as the one to your right, belonged is one of two early Ramayanas that were produced for members of the Mughal court. The manuscript's patron is believed to have been Maharaja Bir Singh Deo (reigned 1605-1627), ruler of the central Indian kingdom of Orchcha. Stylistic continuities between surviving pages of the manuscript and works produced in the imperial Mughal ateliers indicate that Bir Singh Deo employed some of the same artists.


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