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The marriage ceremony of Rama and Sita

UnknownEarly 18th Century

National Museum - New Delhi

National Museum - New Delhi
New Delhi , India

From the Shangri Ramayana

This miniature depicts the marriage of the four princes of Ayodhya with the princesses of Mithila and Sankasya. The principal figures Rama with Sita are conspicuously placed beneath the traditional mandapa erected with saffron-clothed poles appended with the auspicious banana trees. Rama and Sita along with the other Ayodhya princes and their betrotheds circumambulate around the sacred ritual fire. The shy brides falter in their steps and are supported by royal ladies who help them walk around the sacred fire, while the princes proceed with steady bold steps. Instead of carrying the bows that the narrative details, the artist has depicted the grooms carrying the conventional swords sheathed in red velvet case, in the contemporary tradition. The ceremonial ritual is witnessed and consecrated by priests on either side of the tent.

A brilliant saturated yellow casts a glow over the painting. Equally brilliant are the frenzied riot of colours which clash in a vigorous dance. The artist plays with the colours with bold virtuoso - the yellow patka (waist band) with stripes of pale blue and white are confronted with the bright orange jama that the blue skinned Rama wears. The white of his eyes flash against his dark skin as do the pearl ornaments he wears in his ears and neck and the dainty decorative motifs painted on his forehead. The artist reiterates this clash of complementary orange and blue in other areas - note for instance the figure dressed in orange pictured against the background of bright blue in the doorway in the lower right, the combination is even used in happy stripes of the jama worn by the figure on the left. The figures are rendered with full fleshy profiles and remarkably expressive large and staring eyes, bold arched eyebrows, pointed noses and rounded chins.

The artist complements this exuberance of colours with the actions and gestures of the protagonists in the painting that energize the painting. Drummers vigorously beat at their naqqaras and play the shenais in the lower foreground and women set against the lilac pavilion on the right beat the dhol, clap and sing. The gestures, tilts of the heads and the gazes build the revolving, circumambulating movement around the fire.

The architecture is rendered with playful imagination, with asymmetrical ornamentation on the turrets, the pinnacles of the structure of the pavilion on the far left and the central tent flowing free, uncontained by the borders of the painting.

Details

  • Title: The marriage ceremony of Rama and Sita
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Early 18th Century
  • Location: National Museum, New Delhi
  • Location Created: Himachal Pradesh, Mandi
  • Physical Dimensions: 22.6 cm x 32.4cm
  • Subject Keywords: Ramayana, Rama's Marriage
  • Medium: Opaque watercolour on paper
  • Art Form: Pahari Style
  • Depicted Person: Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, Shatrughna
  • Exhibition History: 2020 Ramayana exhibition in Kolkata
  • Accession Number: 62.2436

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