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Garuda pays homage after liberating Rama and Lakshmana from Nag-pash

UnknownEarly 19th Century

National Museum - New Delhi

National Museum - New Delhi
New Delhi , India

Rama with the help of the simian army had waged a war against the demon King Ravana, who had abducted Rama’s wife Sita during their exile in the forest. During the course of war, Ravana’s son, Indrajit, unleashed the lethal nagapasha or the serpent arrows at Rama and his brother Lakshmana. These serpent arrows were endowed with magical powers and binding the two brothers in their death like grip rendered them unconscious.

Immensely agitated, the leaders of the simian army frantically tried to find an antidote for the poison but their search was of no avail.

Suddenly, a great wind arose, “accompanied by massed clouds and lightning”, “whipping up the waves in the ocean, causing the mountains to tremble as if from an earthquake”. To the astonishment of everyone, the mighty celestial eagle, Garuda, emerged “like unto a blazing torch”, in the sky.

On beholding him in the sky, the serpents, mortal enemies of the celestial Garuda, loosened their bind on the two warriors and slithered away, frightened. Garuda then gently touched the wounds of the brothers, which were instantaneously healed, their strength and valour restored. Then, after circumambulating Rama and Lakshmana and bowing reverently, Garuda stretched his mighty wings and flew into the heavens.

Multiple actions and events are depicted in the folio. The simian army has encircled the royal princes watching the events with spellbound anticipation. The folio depicts the brothers as completely restored and they sit up, smiling and blessing Garuda, dressed in an orange dhoti, green wings, and red parrot's beak, depicted as three figures in the process of circumambulating Rama and Lakshmana.

On the top right the mighty bird, his task complete, is shown flying back to his celestial abode.

A bright blue sky spreads out and rolling white clouds blow over it. Lush trees dot the sweeping lawns and the pink and green hillock and boulders that make up the landscape, while two tall trees shelter the recovering princes. Each leaf of the trees has been painted with precise delineation. Gold palaces of the demon king can be seen in the distant horizon on the far left, and through the trees is a faint suggestion of the merging of the sky and the valley below. On the right, the ocean is depicted with wispy silver lines that define its waves.

The bright palette, along with the sharp precision in rendering the lines, as well as the somewhat squat treatment of figures is indicative of a late phase of the painting style.

Details

  • Title: Garuda pays homage after liberating Rama and Lakshmana from Nag-pash
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Early 19th Century
  • Physical Dimensions: 38.5 cm x 50.2 cm

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