The Ramayana, the epic story of Prince Rama, recounts his trials as he tries to rescue his wife, Sita. This statue, currently on view in the Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance exhibition, depicts the antagonist, Ravana (Balinese: Rawana), on his mount, the bird-like Wilmana. The demon king kidnaps Sita, taking her to his island kingdom of Langka. Uniquely, in the Indonesian version of this Hindu story Ravana rides his mount instead of a chariot when he kidnaps Sita.
Hinduism originated in northern India and moved to Southeast Asia through maritime trade. More than 1,000 years ago, evidence of Hinduism existed in much of Southeast Asia. Though Hinduism is still popular in Southeast Asia, the Indonesian island of Bali is the only place in this vast region where a form of it is dominant even today. One of the ways Hinduism spread was through the telling of the Ramayana, a 1,000-year-old Indian epic.
Especially for Teachers: Download the Ravana handout (pdf), for activities related to this object and the Ramayana (The Story of Rama) to conduct with your students in the museum or in your classroom. For related videos and curriculum guides, visit the Asian Art Museum on ArtBabble (a video site dedicated to art content) and the Asian Art Museum’s Educator Resources page. We would love to hear your feedback on our new Art At-A-Glance format. Stay tuned: there are more to come!
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