Saturday, April 6, 2013

Visualization of Ramayana over the centuries

Renowned artist Gulam Mohammed Sheikh in an elaborate talk at the New York-based The Rubin Museum of Art reflected on the many ways the great narrative cycle of the Ramayana has been visualized over the centuries.

An accompanying note elaborated: “Over the centuries, the Ramayana has been recreated all over Asia. Episodes or characters from the epic in its multiple variations and versions have been depicted in murals, folio pictures, miniatures, scrolls, patas and performing leather puppets. The vast variety of depictions allows the epic to be viewed in plural rather than singular terms. While the images of the Ramayana provide for magical leaps of imagination, they also uncover aspects of the narrative that only a visual representation can reveal - and these, then, offer alternative views and readings of the narrative.

“The more ambitious and fuller representations of the epic include the Mughal project at the court of Akbar. The Mewar (17th cent.) version of Sahibdin and Manohar has given nuances to the narrative with great élan. The Pahari versions equally stimulate the senses and locate the stories in a realm of their own. The range of the Ramayana's representations - even from what survives – is vast. All we can do is touch on some of them to understand the oral tales and embrace the nuance.”

The talk was organized in association with the Department of Art History, New York University. The Rubin Museum of Art is a dynamic environment that stimulates learning, promotes understanding, and inspires personal connections to the ideas, cultures, and art of Himalayan Asia.

It’s home to a comprehensive collection of art from the Himalayas and surrounding regions. The artistic heritage of this vast and culturally varied area of the world remains relatively obscure. Through changing exhibitions and an array of engaging public programs, the museum offers opportunities to explore the artistic legacy of the Himalayan region and to appreciate its place in the context of world cultures.

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