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Gum tempera, graphite, and tin on paper
Secondary Support: 47.8 x 29.4 cm (18 13/16 x 11 9/16 in.); Painting only: 30.4 x 25.5 cm (11 15/16 x 10 1/16 in.)
Gift of William E. Ward in memory of his wife, Evelyn Svec Ward 2003.109.a
The underdrawing of this painting was done in graphite and is visible in some areas.
With his colossal u-shaped beak and green wings, the ruler of the vultures, Jatayu, appears assured of victory against the multiheaded demon lord Ravana. This scene, the battle between Jatayu and Ravana, was especially subject to variation. In the Bengali Ramayana, Jatayu initially swallows Ravana—aerial chariot and all—but vomits the villain when he realizes Sita, the wife of his friend Rama, is also aboard. Later, Ravana fatally wounds Jatayu and takes Sita as his prisoner. Doing so sets in motion the events that lead to Ravana’s downfall at the hands of Rama, the only being capable of ending the demon’s reign.
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