The Kidnapping of Sita, Admonishment of Lakshmana

L2015_024_001_A_SCR.jpg

Title

The Kidnapping of Sita, Admonishment of Lakshmana

Date

19th Century

Context

India, possibly the Deccan

Object Number

L2015.024.001

Description

After his sister is mutilated, Ravana plots revenge in the form an elaborate scheme to kidnap Sita. Ravana’s brother Maricha takes the form of a golden deer and bounds past Rama’s hermitage. Sita requests her prince to kill the deer, so Rama instructs Lakshmana to watch over Sita while he goes hunting. When Rama is gone, Lakshmana hears Maricha, dying from Rama’s arrow, call for help in Rama’s voice, and is fooled into abandoning his post to search for Rama. Ravana seizes the opportunity to abduct Sita.

Reading the painting from left to right, Ravana carries Sita away from her opulent hermitage in the highly stylized forest while Rama chastises to Lakshmana over the corpses of Maricha and the golden deer.

The juxtaposition of these two scenes in painting is unusual, and the focus on Lakshmana suggests that a failure of fraternal duty leads to Sita’s abduction as much as the villainy of Ravana. By ignoring his elder brother’s command, Lakshmana ignores his duty. All around, flowers blossom in vibrant colors, contrasting the perfection of nature with the failings of Lakshmana.

Medium

Watercolor with gilding

Physical Dimensions

Sheet: 7 1/2 x 12 1/2 in.

Citation

“The Kidnapping of Sita, Admonishment of Lakshmana,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed August 5, 2021, https://digitalprojects.carlos.emory.edu/items/show/9003.

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