Pata-chitras, or paintings on cloth, belong to a very old tradition in the north-east of India and they depict a number of themes; this one depicts a scene from the Hindu epic the Ramayana; the life story of Rama.

This group of painted cloths is not particularly significant in terms of their provenance or art historical or artistic merits, although one piece appears to be of an earlier date than the three other pieces. Their interest lies in their immediate impact on the viewer and the storytelling opportunities they offer. The function of these pieces is to show the contemporary interpretation of the art schools, rather than to act as examples of the art schools themselves, but they are very nice for developing storytelling programmes.

Catalogue Entry
This is a recent tourist patachitra or painting on cloth depicting scenes from the Hindu epic, The Ramayana. Here we see Hanuman, the Chief of the Monkeys and devotee of Lord Rama, entering the heavily guarding city of Lanka and the palace of Lanka’s demon King Ravana in search of Rama’s kidnapped wife, Sita.

Although this patachitra is not of particularly fine quality, it tells an exciting part of The Ramayana (read left to right and then right to left on lower registers). Hanuman after defeating many demons and she-demons finally makes it to Lanka, the kingdom of Ravana, the demon king who has kidnapped Sita, the wife of Lord Rama. First register: On arriving in Lanka Hanuman is confronted by Lankini, the great demoness who protects Lanka (and the imprisoned Sita, seen sleeping on her bed), she and Hanuman fight, Hanuman wins and she sees the error of her ways and repents. She allows Hanuman into the city and Ravana’s palace. Second register: Ravana has a brother Vibhishana, who was also a devotee of Rama and disapproved of what Ravana had done. Hanuman sought him out and he agrees to tell Hanuman where Sita is. Third register: Hanuman uses his powers to make himself small and finds Sita in the Ashok Vatika. He gives Sita Rama’s ring so that she knows he is a friend and that Rama has not forgotten her and she will be rescued. Fourth register: Rama arrives in Lanka and finds Sita, holding out his hand as Sita kneels before her husband.

There is a little bit of artistic licence here as the story of Sita’s return to Rama is not so clear-cut and there are several battles in between Hanuman giving Sita the ring and her return to Rama.

Chitrakars, the artists who created patachitra would not traditionally have signed their work. This piece has a signature in Oriya in the bottom corner, a further sign that these works are made for the tourist trade and not for local pilgrims

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Religion and magic
Collection Area Region
cotton | sizing | pigment | |
Common Name
Simple Name
Period Classification
Modern (1945-)
Production Town

Production County
Production Country
Production Person Initials

Production Person Surname

Production Year Low

Production Year High

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painting on cloth