The images were intended to aid domestic worship and typically illustrate Hindu deities. Later, mass-produced prints replaced Kalighat paintings. The Hindu gods and goddesses were popular subjects for the Kalighat artists. 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.
Hanuman, faithful servant of Rama, rescuing Ram and his brother Lakshman
watercolour with silver paint on paper
50.2 x 26.4 cm (irreg.)
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Not on display
Shown in 1 exhibition
Indian Folk Paintings and Textiles, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 29 May 2004–04 Jul 2004
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.