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Standing Rama

Early 11th century

India, Tamil Nadu

Copper alloy

H. 37 3/4 x W. 17 1/2 x D. 9 1/2 in. (95.9 x 44.5 x 24.1 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.23

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This strikingly posed figure is Rama, one of the most popular of Vishnu's ten incarnations. Rama can be identified by the position of his hands, which indicates that he is holding a bow (dhanus) in his left hand and an arrow (bana) in his right. He is the hero of the Hindu epic poem the Ramayana, which centers on the abduction of Rama's wife Sita by the demon-king Ravanna and of her rescue by Rama, his brother Lakshmana, and the chief of the monkey army, Hanuman. This image of Rama was once part of a group of images representing these principal characters in the Ramayana. The holes in the bottom of the sculpture permit it to be supported by poles and indicate that it was once carried in temple festivals. The figure stands gracefully in prescribed triple-bend (tribhanga) posture. He wears the high conical cap (kirita-makuta) appropriate to the son of an emperor.