Posted on: 24 September 2013

Hanuman tying Ravana with tail, watercolour and tin alloy on paper, Kalighat, Kolkata, ca. 1860

Painting, in watercolour and tin alloy on paper, a Kalighat painting of the monkey god Hanuman tying up the ten headed demon Ravana with his tail. In contrast to customary Kalighat bold shading techniques, the varied tones of Hanuman's golden hairy body has been emphased with numerous tiny brush strokes. A background of blue waves highlights the combat. The blue waves also represent the sea that Hanuman was supposed to have crossed in search of Sita who was held by Ravana in the island of Lanka.

Historical significance:
Calcutta was recognised as the Capital of British India from 1833-1912. By the 1830s, artists had arrived from rural villages in Bengal and began to produce paintings that reflected local history, mythology, customs and conflicts of a colonised society. As a popular art form, these artists are recognised for their use of brilliant colour, simplified images and swift brushstrokes that became the hallmark of Kalighat painting in the 19th and early 20th century.

Copyright: © V&A Images

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