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Ramayana - Pages 11 and 12

Pages 11 and 12
Copyright © The British Library Board

Add. MS 15296(1)

ff.55v (text) and 56r (picture)

Rama, his wife and brother, dressed in the clothes of bark that Kaikeyi has made them put on, ride off in a chariot driven by Sumantra and surrounded by the townspeople. Dasaratha emerges from his palace and goes through the gate of the city surrounded by his queens. Dasaratha and Kausalya according to Valmiki's text hurry after the chariot until Rama, unable to bear the sight, has to tell Sumantra to quicken his pace so that they would be left behind. The artist Sahib Din has the king simply make a grand gesture of farewell.

This painting is the climax of a series of densely textured paintings that graphically portray the grief and mounting hysteria of the court as Rama's exile approaches. Whereas the previous ones employ simultaneous narration, in which several episodes appear in one painting, this climactic image focuses powerfully on one incident in the story. The standard with the tree flying from the chariot is not in the text but demonstrates Sahib Din's attention to detail: later in the story, when Bharata's army is approaching Citrakuta, the text mentions that the kovidara (orchid-tree) was emblazoned on his standards.

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