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The Indian art and thought have been overhelming
influenced by Ramayana its impact can be felt in whole of South East
Asia. Ramayana is still very popular has been translated in all the
major Indian languages. before the advent of printing technology it
was hand written various mediums (paper, cloth, bark, palm leaf) and were
also illustrated. The illustrated copies of Ramayana have become
prized possession of collectors. Substantial number of these are in
the libraries and museums abroad. The paintings in these manuscripts
throw light on the development of various schools in India. Although
the art of miniature painting is centureis old, the art reached new heights
during the Mughbal period and after the disintegration of the Mughal empire
it got patronage under small rulers in Himachal, Rajasthan, Bundelkhand,
Malwa, Ahmednagar, Golkonds, Tanjore, Orissa etc. Under the influence
of new geographic locations and rulers it began to develop an idiom of its
own and respective school of miniature paintings began to develop.
Ramayana with text in Telugu, early 18th century, is housed in Hyderabad State Museum. Figures, costumes and ornaments in the manuscripts are adopted by the artist from the post-Vijyanagra tradition. Similarly illustrated Ramayana of the Mughal period reflects the Mughal costumes and dresses. Mughal king Akbar got Ramayana translated into Persian. One such imperial copy of the Ramayana is in Swai Man Singh Museum, Jaipur. Akbar also gave orders to make copies of these available for wider dissemination. One such copy is presently in the Freer Gallery, Washington. The imperial copy of the Ramayana is illustrated profusely by the master artists.
The Pahari Ramayana miniature series are less complex technically but there is delicacy in the outline and scheme of colours used. Except Orissa where palm leaf has been used the material used in the rest of India is paper. the early examples of Orissa illustrated palm leaf manuscripts are not colours. The 18th century manuscripts have sharply pointed features.The Kingdom of Mewar was one of the most prolific centres and its capital Udaipur was the hub of the artistic activities. The illustrated manuscripts of Ramayana produced here in the mid 17th century are now housed in Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay; British Library, London; Rajasthan Oriental Research Centre, Udaipur. The characteristic feature of these paintings in the manuscripts are the bold outline drawing, vibrant palette and several consecutive scenes in one frame. The illustrated manuscripts from Rajasthan are complex and used to take years together for completion. The Malw school illustrated Ramayana manuscripts are housed in Bharat Kala Bhavan, Varanasi and also in the collection of Kanoria Private collection Patna.
During colonial rule in India the valuable illustrated manuscripts including Ramayana found their way abroad and we were bereft of this priceless treasure. IGNCA has documented these manuscripts in the reprographic form. the illustrations in these manuscripts were copied in the slide form in order to better appreciate the miniature paintings. The slide unit of the IGNCA has 1386 slides on Ramayana. Below is the list of collection, date of the manuscripts and the total number of slides available in IGNCA on Ramayana.
Copyright IGNCAŠ 2001