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Heirloom textile (ma'a) with a scene from the 'Ramayana'

18th century-19th century


Unknown Artist

Alternate image of Heirloom textile (ma'a) with a scene from the 'Ramayana' by
Alternate image of Heirloom textile (ma'a) with a scene from the 'Ramayana' by
Alternate image of Heirloom textile (ma'a) with a scene from the 'Ramayana' by
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Coromandel Coast India
    Cultural origin
    trade cloth made for the Indonesian market
    18th century-19th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    natural dyes painted on cotton
    93.0 x 462.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Dr John Yu 1998
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    Many large cloths depicting the major battle from the Indian epic, the Ramayana, when Prince Rama defeats the demon king Ravana and his army from the realm of Lanka, survive from Indonesia, in particular from Sulawesi and Bali. The Toraja people of Central Sulawesi kept such textiles stored in ceramic jars as sacred heirloom pieces that they termed "ma'a".

    Most of these cloths follow the same composition as seen here: Rama and the multi-headed, multi-armed Ravana take centre stage. Behind Rama, preparing his bow, is his lifelong companion Laksmana and the monkey king, Hanuman, with his army of monkeys. Ravana is supported by ogres and small demons. The battle is in full swing, arrows flying everywhere, heads being cut off, figures wrestling, mutilated bodies and severed limbs littering the ground. The style of drawing and clothes indicate south Indian temple hangings as the source of inspiration.

    Asian Art Department, AGNSW, 2006

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications

    • Jackie Menzies, Arts of Asia, 'New Dimensions', pg. 54-63, Hong Kong, Nov 2003-Dec 2003, 56-57 (colour illus.). no.5

    • Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2003, 340-341 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on page 341 is a detail of this work.

    • Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, 'Benefaction', pp. 16-17, Sydney, May 2002, 16-17 (colour illus.).