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Hanuman

Accession Number
1976/2.53

Title
Hanuman

Artist(s)
Indian

Artist Nationality
Indian (South Asian)

Object Creation Date
17th century

Medium & Support
bronze

Dimensions
5 5/16 in x 2 in x 2 in (13.5 cm x 5.08 cm x 5 cm);5 5/16 in x 2 in x 2 in (13.5 cm x 5 cm x 5 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Leo S. Figiel

Label copy
March 28, 2009
The monkey–general Hanuman stands with his hands clasped before his chest in the anjali mudra, a gesture of devotion, offering, and humility. Anjali mudra is one of thousands of hand positions used in Hindu rituals, classical dance, and yoga. Here, the gesture is directed at Rama, under whose service Hanuman performed remarkable acts of heroism described in the great epic tale, the Ramayana. In Vishnu temples and home shrines, bronzes such as this would have been grouped with figures of Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana. This gesture, therefore, more than identifies the figure; it evokes the emotional dynamics between the epic’s characters, lending a theatrical quality to figures that are otherwise static. At the same time, Hanuman’s gesture presents the quintessential icon of devotional love, a sentiment familiar to all worshipers and closely associated with him. Hanuman is beloved by devotees, as is evident in the condition of this bronze—lovingly rubbed to a smooth finish almost devoid of details.
(Label for UMMA South and Southeast Asia Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)

Subject matter
The monkey Hanuman, often referred to as a monkey god, figures prominently in the epic, the Ramayana, telling the story of the incarnation of Vishnu and his war against the demon king of Lanka, Ravana. He is the most important of the monkey hosts and served important function in the story. He is often sculpted to fit into a set of sculptures depicting the god Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, and his brother Lakshman and his wife Sita. The groups sometimes signify the coronation of the god Rama, which is the end of the story, but sometimes the grouping is of them all standing. He has a devotional following of his own and is usually depicted as a human with a monkey’s head.

Physical Description
Hanuman stands on a tiered base, which starts square and sloped, then is square and straight up and then round sloped and ringed. He has a human body and a monkey’s head. He stands in an unbending stance with his hands in anjali mudra, held up to his chest with palms together in a prayer gesture. He wears a diaphanous garment from the waist down with only the edged decorated and depicted with a series of belts and sashes hanging in front of it. He wears a number of necklaces and armlets. His face is very worn and far less realistic than the body with the large round eyes incised with eyebrows above and a large circle on his forehead. His mouth is a simple slit.

Primary Object Classification
Sculpture

Primary Object Type
figure

Additional Object Classification(s)
Ritual Object

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Hanuman
Hinduism
gods (dieties)
monkeys (animals)

5 Related Resources

Art of the Ramayana
(Part of 7 Learning Collections)
Devotional Objects Across Religions
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Hindu Gods and Goddesses
(Part of 6 Learning Collections)
Human-Animal Metamorphosis
(Part of 6 Learning Collections)
Art of the Ramayana
(Part of: Ramayana)

& Author Notes

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