Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Indian (South Asian)

Object Creation Date
14th century

Medium & Support

5 5/8 in x 3 1/16 in x 2 9/16 in (14.3 cm x 7.8 cm x 6.5 cm);5 5/8 in x 3 1/16 in x 2 9/16 in (14.3 cm x 7.8 cm x 6.5 cm);x 2 3/8 in x 2 3/8 in x 6 cm x 6 cm

Credit Line
Gift of Michele Caplan

Label copy
March 28, 2009
Knowledge of Hindu gods is conveyed through visual means as well as by repeated encounters with the same ideas and stories. Images of Rama, such as this one, recall events of the epic Ramayana, in which the god fights a battle of colossal proportions to rescue his wife from the demon Ravana. Story and image alike emphasize Rama’s humanity: like us, he makes mistakes, suffers lovesickness, and feels regret. One of Vishnu’s incarnations, Rama is not only a god but also a human hero. That paradox ensured his victory against Ravana, who was granted protection against gods and demons, but not man. In this bronze Rama is presented as a human warrior, with two arms that once held a bow and arrow. Resplendent, he dances in joyful relief. Though he may be distinctly human, Rama is imbued with divine beauty.
(Label for UMMA South and Southeast Asia Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)

Subject matter
Stories of the incarnations of Vishnu are very common and various groups of different numbers of incarnations are found. The most standard one is of ten, the Dasavatara. Rama is number seven in the series and is one of the great epic figures. A long epic known in many different versions in a variety of languages tells his story. His prowess as an archer figures prominently and he is almost invariably shown with one, except in coronation scenes. The monkey Hanuman is associated with his stories.

Physical Description
The two-handed figure stands in relaxed posture on a base consisting of square and round forms. At the bottom of each shape stylized lotus petals are incised. His right hand is extended outwards and would have been holding an arrow and he left arm is extended up to his die to hold a bow. He wears much of jewelry including anklets bracelets, armlets, necklace and shoulder loops, belts with pendant elements and a sacred thread reaching just below his waist. He wears a lower garment with incised lines delineating the folds and sections that flare out to either side. He wears an elaborate crown. One element extends over his right shoulder, which may either be part of his quiver of arrows or a broken section of a halo. He wears a conical headdress incised with a worn pattern. His face is sharply stylized with a long straight nose and wide, open eyes.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)
Ritual Object

Collection Area

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.


3 Related Resources

Art of the Ramayana
(Part of 7 Learning Collections)
Hindu Gods and Goddesses
(Part of 6 Learning Collections)
Art of the Ramayana
(Part of: Ramayana)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted