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2003/136/33 Figure of Rama, hero of the Ramayana epic and seventh avatar of Vishnu, bronze, South India, Vijayanagara period, 1700-1799. Click to enlarge.

Indian bronze figure of Rama.

Made
This small bronze figure probably represents Rama, one of the thousand names of the Hindu God Vishnu enumerated in the Mahabharata, and his seventh incarnation. Rama is the hero of the epic Ramayana and he and his wife Sita are seen as symbols of incorruptibility, honesty, loyalty and tenderness.

The figure is part of a collection of forty-one Indian bronze miniatures assembled by the donor. The figures were made in India over a period spanning eleven hundred years, and were produced for use in temples or in household shrines and by pilgrims.

As an example of Hindu iconography, this image represents one of the worlds great and ancient religious traditions. Hinduism is as much a philosophy and culture as it is a religion, a rich and complex aggregate which has drawn on a collection of holy books and incorporated a wide range of influences since its origins around 4000 years ago. The multiple deities, demi-gods and heroes of the Hindu pantheon and Hindu literature reflect the syncretistic nature of Hinduism in their diverse forms and complex lineages, and are represented in a magnificent corpus of figurative sculptures, large and small.

These images were intended to remind people of spiritual truths and sacred stories and to function as aids to meditation. They follow forms and dimensions that are carefully prescribed for each deity, and all parts and attributes such as the position of the body, the emblems and ornaments, and the accompanying minor divinities have significance.

Summary

Object No.

2003/136/33

Object Statement

Figure of Rama, hero of the Ramayana epic and seventh avatar of Vishnu, bronze, South India, Vijayanagara period, 1700-1799

Physical Description

Small bronze figurine of Rama standing on a square, lightly decorated base. The right leg is forward and gives the appearance of a walking stance, with knees slightly bent. He holds a bow (bent at the top) and arrow (bent at the tip) and a quiver is visible over the right shoulder. Body armour covers the torso down to mid-thigh. A sword is tucked through his belt on the left.

Dimensions

Height

50 mm

Width

35 mm

Depth

28 mm

Production

Made

Notes

The following characteristics of body position, attributes and dress are identifiable forms of Indian iconography and assist with identification and dating.

The figure wears full dress (armour?), anklets, a belt, and a strap which runs from right to left to hold the quiver in place. The head is covered and some hair is visible on his brow; there is no crown, nor does he wear the sacred thread. The arrow is held in the right hand.

The figurine is bronze and most likely cast by the cire perdue (lost wax) method. Each piece was cast individually and in South India were always solid. Sculptors adhered to a strict code of rules, measurements and proportions

History

Used

Notes

Small bronze figures like this, representing deities from the Hindu pantheon or the great Hindu epic poems, were made in large quantities throughout India for use in temples, in domestic shrines and by pilgrims.

Part of a collection of small bronze figures put together by the donor. Most of them portray a variety of deities from India's Hindu pantheon and heroes of the Indian epic poems the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The donor purchased his first two pieces for this collection from Spink in London in 1968, and the rest from a variety of sources during the 1990s. This piece was acquired in December 1999 from Spink in London for 700 pounds.

Source

Credit Line

Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Alastair Morrison, 2003

Acquisition Date

13 October 2003

Cite this Object

Harvard

Indian bronze figure of Rama. 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 September 2020, <https://ma.as/319636>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/319636 |title=Indian bronze figure of Rama. |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 September 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Collection Gallery 1 at the Museums Discovery Centre.

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.