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Hanuman rescuing Rama and Lakshmana



Kalighat style


circa 1830 – 1930

  • Details

    Other Title
    Hanuman, faithful servant of Rama, rescuing Ram and his brother Lakshman
    Place where the work was made
    Kalighat Kolkata (Calcutta) West Bengal India
    Media categories
    Painting , Watercolour
    Materials used
    watercolour with silver paint on paper
    50.2 x 26.4 cm (irreg.)
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased 1959
    Upper Asian gallery
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Kalighat style

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Images such as this are known as Kalighat paintings, after the famous Kalighat temple in Kolkata (Calcutta) dedicated to Kali, the fearsome goddess of time and death. From around 1830, distinctive, quickly painted souvenirs were produced in large numbers for visitors who flocked to the temple. The images were intended to aid domestic worship and typically illustrate Hindu deities. Later, mass-produced prints replaced Kalighat paintings.

    This is a scene from the Ramayana, the epic poem recounting the adventures of Prince Rama. It depicts Hanuman, the monkey general, carrying the prince and his brother Lakshmana. Hanuman holds a club in each hand ready to battle with the demon god Ravana, who abducted Rama’s wife Sita and took her to his palace on the island of Langka. Sometimes we find the brothers resting on Hanuman’s strong shoulders, while in others they are bound in his tail. While sometimes found painted black, blue or white, he is always red in his form as Mahavir (the heroic). As the story goes, Hanuman was so impressed by the promise of longevity embodied in sindur, the vermilion pigment that Sita applied to her forehead, he smeared it all over his body.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications

    • Kate Brittlebank, TAASA Review, 'Unexpected Connections: An Australian Kalighat Album Reunited', pg. 4-5, Sydney, Jun 2006.

    • Kate Brittlebank, TAASA Review, "Postscript: Kalighat's Missionaries', pg. 23, Sydney, Dec 2006.

    • Kate Brittlebank, Journal of the History of Collections, 'Anthropology, fine art and missionaries: The Berndt Kalighat album rediscovered', pg.127-142, Oxford, May 2008.

  • Provenance

    Lucy Thompson, 1890-1951, Adelaide/South Australia/Australia, purchased in Kolkata between 1890 and 1913.

    Hans Heysen, pre 1953, Hahndorf/South Australia/Australia

    Stefan Heysen, Jun 1959, Hahndorf/South Australia/Australia, by descent

    David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, 24 Jul 1959, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 24 July 1959

Other works by Kalighat style

See all 9 works