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Two Pages From a Ramayana Series Attributed to the Workshop of Mira Bagas

Two Pages From a Ramayana Series Attributed to the Workshop of Mira Bagas

Item Description:

REGISTERED ANTIQUITY - NON-EXPORTABLE ITEM (Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale at the back of the catalogue)


The Demoness Taraka Terrifying Wild Animals in the Forest; Vishwamitra Tells Rama the Story of King Bali and Vamana

Uniara, India, 1760-1780

Opaque pigment on paper heightened with gold

Image 7 3/8 x 12 3/8 in. (18.8 x 31.4 cm.); folio 10 x 15 3/8 in. (25.5 x 39.1 cm.); image 7 1/2 x 12 1/8 in. (19.1 x 30.8 cm.); folio 10 1/8 x 15 in. (25.7 x 38 cm.) (2)


For two pages from this same series see Milo Cleveland Beach, Rajput Painting at Bundi and Kota, Ascona, 1974, pl. XLIX, figs. 50 and 51.

According to the text of the Ramayana, Taraka was born to Suketu, and had the strength of a thousand elephants. She was given in marriage to Sunda, who was killed by a curse of the sage Agastya. Enraged by the death of her husband, Taraka goes with her son Mareecha to kill Agastya. The sage curses Taraka, and turns her into an ugly cannibalistic demoness. This delivered a deep hatred for sages and Taraka began killing rishis and destroying hermitages whenever she came across them.

The first painting depicts Taraka in her ferocious and monstrous form. Her footsteps make the ground tremble, instilling fear in the hearts of the wildlife around. Elephants, bison, boars, tigers and deer are running away from her in fear. Her gigantic size is highlighted by the diminutive trees placed around her. Her ferocious eyes, huge and sharp fangs, long nails and beastly feet add to her demonic appearance. The circular placement of the animals and trees around her adds to the overall energy of the composition, which is full of vigour and vitality. The court painters of Bundi are known for lively animal compositions, and it is clear from the current painting, that these preferences are also characteristic of the Uniara atelier. Some of the animal compositions may have been directly adopted from Bundi sources.

In the second painting, Rama and Lakshmana visit Vishwamitra at the Siddhashrama hermitage. The young princes ask him about the origin of the hermitage. Vishwamitra then narrates the story of King Bali's sacrifice. The demon-king Bali, had planned to perform a great sacrifice in order to render himself invincible. Having already suffered defeat at his hands, and fearing this circumstance, the gods urged Vishnu for help. Vishnu incarnated as Vamana, a dwarf Brahmin, and reached the place where the sacrifice was being performed. Known for his generosity, Bali asked Vamana what he wished to receive from him, and Vamana asked for 'two and a half steps of ground'. King Bali accepted his demand and asked the dwarf to measure the ground with his steps. It was at this point that Vishnu transformed into a gigantic form, Trivikrama, and measured the whole sky in one step, and the earth along with the abyss in his second step. When Vishnu told Bali that there was no space left for the remaining half step, Bali requested Vishnu to put his half step on his head. Pleased by his sacrifice and generosity, Vishnu said that the place would always be considered sacred and named it Sidhhashrama.

Like other paintings from the set, this folio is divided into registers. The monumental figure of Trivikrama in the centre divides the composition into two parts. The left side shows Rama and Lakshmana reaching the hermitage and the gods appearing in front of Vishnu asking for his help. The right side of the composition is the depiction of the narrative of the Vamana incarnation. In the centre, Raja Bali can be seen folding his hands in supplication to Vishnu.

‡ Registered Antiquity - Non-exportable Item. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale.

* Antiquity or Art Treasure - Non-exportable Item. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale.

₹ 600,000.00 ( Low est. )
Lot 4‡* in The Fine Art Sale including Classical Paintings (M0029)
AUCTION DATE: Jan 21, 2021 at 6:30pm IST



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