Rama and Sita Enthroned with Lakshmana and Hanuman

Punjab Hills, Guler
Circa 1800-15
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Folio: 8 3/8 by 6¼ in. (21.2 by 15.9 cm)
Image: 7 7/8 by 5 5/8 in. (19.9 by 14.4 cm)

The present example is a portrayal of the Ramayana’s joyful culminating scene with Rama and Sita enthroned and attended by their loyal companions.  The royal couple is seated on a hexagonal divan resting on a luxurious Mughal-style trellis carpet and surmounted by a fringed parasol.  From behind, Rama’s brother Lakshmana waves a cloth and morchhal (fly whisk) over their heads, while at their feet, Hanuman stands in a reverent posture.  Above, a sumptuous fabric panel has been raised and tied, allowing fresh air and light into the chamber.  Although their focus is with one another, the view from the window is populated by diminutive figures outside, engaged in their daily routines.

The Ramayana is an ancient Indian epic poem which narrates the struggle of the divine prince Rama to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. The epic, traditionally ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki, narrates the life of Rama, the legendary prince of Kosala Kingdom, his banishment from the kingdom by his father, King Dasharatha, his travels across forests in India with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, the kidnap of his wife by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, resulting in a war with him, and Rama's eventual return to Ayodhya to be crowned king.