The Ramayana is the most celebrated epic poem in South and Southeast Asia. It tells the journey of prince Rama, from his banishment from the kingdom of Ayodhya, to his triumphant return.
We've created a puzzle from a painting that depicts the kidnapping of Rama's wife, Sita. Visit the virtual exhibition for "Tell the Whole Story from Beginning to End": The Ramayana in Indian Painting to familiarize yourself with the narrative.
Click here to see the entire painting.
Indian paintings can contain many scenes within a single image; sometimes, text that appears at the top of an image will offer instructions on how to "read" the painting. As you complete this puzzle, notice the following moments:
- On the left, the demon king Ravana carries Sita away from her opulent hermitage in the highly stylized forest.
- On the right, Rama chastises Lakshmana, who had been fooled into abandoning Sita, over the corpses of Maricha, Ravana's brother, and the golden deer whose form he had taken as a disguise.
- 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.