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Ramayana Rumal

Chamba rumal covering from northwestern Inia, 18th century. Chamba rumal covering from northwestern Inia, 18th century. Copyright Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acc. no. 31.82.4.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York houses a chamba rumal (Hindi for handkerchief or covering; Chamba is the historical name for part of the province of Himachal Pradesh) in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent. It is made of cotton with silk, tinsel and metal thread embroidery. It measures 66 x 63.5 cm and has been dated to the eighteenth century.

Most of the chamba rumals from northwestern India depict scenes from one of the avatars of the Hindu god, Vishnu, including that of Rama (as recounted in the Ramayana). This rumal shows Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana bidding farewell to Rama's mother before they go into exile in the forest. Next we see Ravana, being disguised as an ascetic, attempting to seduce Sita while Rama, her husband, is hunting a golden deer that was sent by Ravana as a diversion. Ravana takes Sita away and is shown being imprisoned in Ravana's palace. The next scene being depicted (lower left hand corner) shows Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman, and the monkey and bear armies crossing over to Lanka (Sri Lanka/Ceylon) and move towards Ravana's fortress and defeat Ravana. In the middle of the embroidery, the final scene shows Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana departing in triumph, being carried in palanquins.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art online catalogue (retrieved 14 December 2016).

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Last modified on Thursday, 15 December 2016 18:06