Friday, June 4, 2010


The Ramayana is a great Indian epic originally written in Sanskrit about 500 B.C.  It is a central text of the Hindu religion.  I just read an illustrated version of one story from the Ramayana: The Adventures of Rama by Milo Cleveland Beach.  The story in this book tells of Rama, a heroic prince favored by the gods.  He goes on adventures, finds true love, and slays demons to save the world from evil creatures.  It is a classic hero story--very similar to Greek myths, to the medieval tales in King Arthur and Robin Hood, and also to Homer's Odyssey, which was written about two hundred years before the Ramayana.

The illustrations in this book are from a sixteenth-century manuscript currently in the possession of the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art.  The art reminds me of early Egyptian art because the artists often choose to illustrate people with their heads in profile, their chests facing the front, and the legs in profile.  Interestingly, many of the monsters are not drawn that way, although a few are.  I wonder if the artists thought this distinguished between monsters and humans and good creatures like the monkeys?

No comments:

Post a Comment