Battle between Hanuman and Kumbhakarna, from the Ramayana, ca. 1810-1820 (Mughal period, 1526-1858)
Opaque watercolor on paper
Mat: 16 in x 20 in; 40.6 cm x 50.8 cm; Sheet: 10 in x 13 13/16 in; 25.4 cm x 35.1 cm
Purchase with the John Martyn Warbeke Art Fund
This dynamic painting depicts scenes from the Hindu epic the Ramayana, which consists of 24,000 verses and narrates the life of Prince Rama, an embodiment of the Hindu god Vishnu. The dramatic tale climaxes with the abduction of Rama’s wife, Sita, by the demon-king Ravana, and the gruesome war that follows. Rama and his allies of bears and monkeys battle Ravana’s monstrous troops until Rama emerges victorious and rescues his wife. This painting illustrates two scenes from the same battle: the top depicts the massive Kumbhakarna, the brother of the demon-king Ravana, seated on a large platform pulled by his ten horses into battle; the bottom register shows Kumbhakarna advancing into direct combat, trident in hand, after his chariot was destroyed by Rama’s allies. The painting of Kangra — a princely state in the Punjab Hills — flourished from the 18th to 19th century, blending indigenous Hindu painting traditions with strong Mughal influences.