We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 In line with NSW Health advice, the Art Gallery is temporarily closed to the public. Stay updated on our social media.

Title

Sacred heirloom textile cloth (ma'a) painted with a scene from the Ramayana

Artists

Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Coromandel Coast India
    Media category
    Textile
    Materials used
    natural dyes painted on cotton
    Dimensions
    90.0 x 464.0 cm
    Credit
    Gift of Dr John Yu and Dr George Soutter 2005
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    169.2005
    Copyright

    Reproduction requests

    Share
  • 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 2 exhibitions