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The Rama Epic: Endings

Shadow puppet of Rama, from the Thai version of the Ramayana, 1900-1950. Thailand. Painted perforated leather with wooden handle. Gift of the Randall Museum Friends, 2010.534.

Shadow puppet of Rama, from the Thai version of the Ramayana, 1900-1950. Thailand. Painted perforated leather with wooden handle. Gift of the Randall Museum Friends, 2010.534.

Manuscript with fortune-telling lore and illustrations of the stories of Rama, Sang Thong, and Manora, approx. 1800-1850. Thailand. Paint, gold, and ink on paper. Gift of George McWilliams, 2008.89_41.

Manuscript with fortune-telling lore and illustrations of the stories of Rama, Sang Thong, and Manora, approx. 1800-1850. Thailand. Paint, gold, and ink on paper. Gift of George McWilliams, 2008.89_41.

Shadow puppet of a monkey warrior, perhaps Hanuman, in an attentive pose, from the Thai version of the Ramayana, 1900-1950. Thailand. Painted perforated leather with wooden handle and bamboo support. Gift of the Randall Museum Friends, 2010.538.

Shadow puppet of a monkey warrior, perhaps Hanuman, in an attentive pose, from the Thai version of the Ramayana, 1900-1950. Thailand. Painted perforated leather with wooden handle and bamboo support. Gift of the Randall Museum Friends, 2010.538.

The demon king Ravana riding a mythical bird, approx. 1800–1900. Indonesia; North Bali. Colors and gold on wood. Asian Art Museum, Acquisition made possible by the Connoisseurs’ Council and the estate of K. Hart Smith, 2010.18.2. Photograph © Asian Art Mu

The demon king Ravana riding a mythical bird, approx. 1800–1900. Indonesia; North Bali. Colors and gold on wood. Asian Art Museum, Acquisition made possible by the Connoisseurs’ Council and the estate of K. Hart Smith, 2010.18.2. Photograph © Asian Art Mu

version a: HAPPILY EVER AFTER

Rama, the Hero

Reigns, with Sita at his side, for thousands of years of peace and prosperity.

Sita, the Heroine

Stays by Rama’s side as his queen as he reigns for thousands of years of peace and prosperity.

Hanuman, the Ally

Is told by Rama to remain on earth as long as the Ramayana continues to be told.    

Ravana, the Foe

Has been killed (but Hindu tradition holds that he was reborn in a future age to be slain once more by the next incarnation  of Vishnu and achieve union with the god).

version b: OR NOT . . .

 

Rama, the Hero

Abandons Sita when rumors about her fidelity circulate in his kingdom, and he feels he must put the good order of the kingdom before his personal wishes. Years later he learns that Sita has borne him twin sons. Rama calls on Sita to make a public profession of her faithfulness. She does so, but then calls on her mother the Earth to receive her and sinks out of sight. Rama is angry and bereft. He goes on to reign alone for thousands of years. Eventually he wades into the river, reassumes his form as Vishnu, and returns to the heavens, where he and Sita are reunited.

Sita, the Heroine

Pregnant with Rama’s twin sons, she is taken into the wilderness by Lakshmana and abandoned, on Rama’s orders, after rumors about her fidelity circulate. She is given shelter by a sage and gives birth to the children. Years later when she returns to Rama’s court, the irreproachable sage testifies to her purity and integrity. But when there are further demands that she prove herself faithful she responds by calling on her mother the Earth to open and take her in. Long after, she is reunited with Rama in the heavenly realm.

Hanuman, the Ally

Is told by Rama to remain on earth as long as the Ramayana continues to be told.  

Ravana, the Foe

Has been killed (but Hindu tradition holds that he was reborn in a future age to be slain once more by the next incarnation  of Vishnu and achieve union with the god).

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