Hanuman before Rama and Lakshmana: Folio from the dispersed “Mankot” Ramayana series

When Hanuman, as the messenger of Sugriva, first encounters Rama and Lakshmana, he assumes the form and aspect of a sage. After much discussion a pact of friendship is decided upon and Hanuman returns to his natural monkey form. This moment was chosen, as Hanuman’s disguise would have confused the viewer; moreover this portrayal allowed the artist to emphasize his role as a general of the great monkey army. The Mankot Ramayana series (see also Lakshmana and Sugriva Being Carried by Palanquin to Receive Rama’s Blessings) focuses on Rama’s exile in the forest; the heroes are depicted in the attire of forest dwellers—leaf shirts and hats—and the landscape is rendered in green. The narrow skyline is broken by jagged storm clouds, descendents of the Persian clouds introduced 150 years earlier.

Ink and opaque watercolor on paper


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Metropolitan Museum of Art

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