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Two Figures, Probably Rama and Lakshmana

5th century

Karnataka or Tamil Nadu, India

Terra-cotta

H. 17 1/2 x W. 16 3/4 x 5 1/4 in. (44.5 x 42.5 x 13.3 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.6


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This architectural panel made of terra-cotta was used to decorate a brick temple from the Gupta period. It depicts two men, seated in conversation. Because of their light clothing and the quivers they carry, these figures have been tentatively identified as the Hindu god Rama -- a form of Vishnu -- and his brother Lakshmana. Rama is the hero of the great Hindu epic poem Ramayana, which tells the story of the loss of Rama's throne; his exile from his kingdom; the seizure of his wife Sita by a demon; and the subsequent rescue of Sita by Rama, Lakshmana, and the monkey king Hanuman. Rama, who holds a bow in this depiction, is shown slightly larger than Lakshmana as befits his divine status.