At Panchavati: Lakshmana preparing food and Sita making a garland of flowers

UnknownLate 18th Century

National Museum - New Delhi

National Museum - New Delhi
New Delhi , India

The folio depicts the idyllic abode of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana at Panchavati, during their period of exile in the forest. The texts describe the surroundings as a scenic woodland, with cool waters flowing nearby, ensconced within soaring mountains with many caves, surrounded by flowering trees, inhabited by deer and peacocks, and sounded by the delightful strains of the birds. Nestled within a grove of trees, Lakshmana built a delightful cottage, where the three exiles spent their days happily, spending their time in simple pleasurable pursuits.

The artist depicts the three figures bathed in the warm pleasant yellow of the background. A curved strip of the sky peeks through the yellow background with patches of swirling clouds, while a pale green patch of grass spreads across the foreground. The colours used in the painting are muted and mellow and suffuse a gentle warmth to the scene. An air of perfect harmony and calm pervades the scene. In the serene calm of the environs the three figures carry on with their tasks.

While Lakshmana on the left cooks up a meal over a little fire, Rama in the centre is depicted sitting on a raised plinth, holding an arrow in his hand, surveying the scene with an air of contentment. Delicate blossoms of flowers rain down from the tree, while Sita on the right, picks up the fallen flowers to string them into a garland such as the ones placed on the grass. Light washes of colour fashion the banana leaves, with delicate lines marking its veins, while the heavy fruits and flowers bow down from the plantains.

The line rendering the figures is sensitive and delicate. There is an abundance of jewellery on the exiles, despite being garbed in clothes made up of leaves, and the delicate ornaments of gold flecked with pearls, rubies and emeralds add to the delicacy of the figures.

The painting is rendered in an earlier Chamba style before the influence of the Guler-Kangra painterly idiom that informs it after the mid eighteenth century. Certain features of the painting are stylistic characteristics of the Chamba style: the facial types with squarish heads, sharply receding brows, long sharp naturalistically painted eyes, and pointed noses, the manner in which the hair of the two men curl at the nape of the neck and a penchant for using yellows, mauves and pinks.


  • Title: At Panchavati: Lakshmana preparing food and Sita making a garland of flowers
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Late 18th Century
  • Location: National Museum, New Delhi
  • Location Created: Himachal Pradesh
  • Physical Dimensions: 15.5 cm x 23 cm
  • Subject Keywords: Ramayana, Rama, Sita, Lakshmana
  • Medium: Opaque watercolour on paper
  • Art Form: Chamba Style, Pahari Style
  • Depicted Person: Rama, Sita, Lakshmana
  • Exhibition History: 2020 Ramayana exhibition in Kolkata
  • Accession Number: 49.19/126

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