Mar 17, 2014

Jatayu Hinders Ravana’s Chariot, Trying to Prevent the Abduction of Sita

Jatayu Hinders Ravana’s Chariot, Trying to Prevent the Abduction of Sita

c. 1890

Part of a set. See all set records

Watercolor, graphite, and ink on paper

Secondary Support: 47.8 x 29.4 cm (18 13/16 x 11 9/16 in.)

Gift of William E. Ward in memory of his wife, Evelyn Svec Ward 2003.109



This is an image of the ten-headed demon Ravana and Sita, wife of Rama, in a chariot held in the beak of the bird Jatayu, king of the vultures. When Ravana abducted Sita and carried her off in the flying chariot, Jatayu, a great devotee of Rama, engaged him in aerial battle to rescue her. Unsuccessful, he fell to earth, mortally wounded. It was from Jatayu that Rama found out about his wife. This story is from the epic Ramayana (The Journey of Rama). Here, in the Bengali version of this episode, Jatayu attempts to swallow the chariot in order to kill Ravana, but is forced to vomit it out once he realizes that Sita is on board. Jatayu is portrayed as a hero rather than as a failure.

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