India, Tamil Nadu, Vijayanagar, 16th century
bronze – height: 18cm
This small bonze figure depicts Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu and a widely worshipped Hindu deity embodying good morality and pure spirit. Rama can be identified by the arrows tied to his back and the tall Mukuta crown. The placement of his raised hands indicate Rama once held a bow in his left hand and an arrow in his right, which are his typical attributes. Rama stands on a lotus throne adorned with narrow petals set on a square base decorated with chased geometric lines. The latter and the incised adornment all over the figure are typical decorative motives of 16th century Vijayanagar bronzes. In addition, the flowing volumes of the figure and fine casting affirm the dating of this bronze.
The important Sanskrit epic Ramayana, which tells the life of Rama, had a massive influence on the art production in India - and Tamil Nadu in particular – resulting in many depictions of Rama in manuscript illustrations, painting, and sculpture. The worship of Rama was already prominent during the Chola period in South India, but became increasingly popular during the Vijayanagar period. The present sculpture has a worn surface due to ritual touching, predominantly on the chest, face, and headdress. Taking this into consideration, and given the small size of the bronze, it is a possibility that the present bronze was not cast for a temple, but rather commissioned by a wealthy family or individual to worship in the home. Although the sculpture is worn, delicate ornaments are still visible, especially on the reverse of the sculpture. The intrusive use created an attractive glossy patina with golden and copper tones.
This graceful bronze, finely adorned and a classic example of a Vijayanagar Rama bronze, tells us about the devotional lives of people from Southern India, and presents as a beautiful jewel-like work of art.
Collection Galerie de Ruimte, The Netherlands
Mrs. Barbara La Rocco, The Netherlands
Pollet, Gilbert. Indian Epic Values: Ramayana and Its impact: Proceedings of the 8th International Ramayana Conference. Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 1995.
Pramod, Chandra. Sculpture of India, 3000 B.C.–A.D. 1300. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1985.
Rao, T.A. Gopinatha. Elements of Hindu Iconography. Motilal Banarsidass Publisher, 1985.
 Chandra Pramod, Sculpture of India, 3000 B.C.–A.D. 1300, (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1985), p.217
 T.A. Gopinatha Rao, Elements of Hindu Iconography, (Motilal Banarsidass Publisher, 1985), p.189
 Gilbert Pollet, Indian Epic Values: Ramayana and Its impact: Proceedings of the 8th International Ramayana Conference, (Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 1995), p. 81
 Pollet, p. 85-87