Category Archives: Battlescenes

Terracotta art of Bengal : depictions from the Ramayana

    The temples of Bengal (undivided) are well known for the intricate terracotta work and carvings. The themes depicted are many. Among them the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are also seen at many places. Scenes and characters from the epics are sculpted.

         Showcased below is a a terracotta creation from a temple at Surul, a village in Birbhum, West Bengal  adjacent to Visva-Bharati University, founded by Rabindranath Tagore. Depicted below are scenes from the epic Ramayana. The battle between Lord Rama and Ravana at Lanka has been sculpted above the arch.

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Terracotta carving of Ramayana, Surul , Birbhum, West Bengal.

Pic source : wikitravel.org

      The Ramayana was composed by Sage Valmiki (5th century B.C to 1st century B.C , ie. more than 2500 years ago. It is the story of Lord Rama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu of Hinduism. It has over 24,000 verses spanning 5 chapters and is the longest epic poem of Hinduism. Rama is the prince of Ayodhya , eldest son of King Dasaratha. Rama is to succeed him but King Dasaratha’s second wife Kaikeyi wants her son Bharata to be on the throne. She schemes against Rama and sends him along with his wife Sita into exile for 14 years. During this time Sita is kidnapped by demon king Ravana of Lanka. However with the help of his brother Lakhsmana , who accompanies him on his exile and the monkey general Hanuman, an ardent devotee of Lord Rama, Sita is rescued after a fierce battle. After the exile they come back to Ayodhya and Lord Rama is crowned king. They have two sons Lava and Kusha. However Sita is accused of being unfaithful and asked to prove her chastity. She prays to Mother Earth and vanishes for ever but is immortalised; as per the epic. Ramayana is very popular and  Rama and Sita are thought of as  ideals and their victory is taken as the victory of good over evil. There are many sub-stories which teach valuable moral lessons. The great epic has been depicted in art since ancient times. There are miniature paintings, sculpture, modern paintings, translations in many languages, versions in other Asian countries, songs, films and television serials about the epic, given its timelessness and popularity.  Thus the terracotta  temples in Bengal (undivided) are no exception and could not escape the magic of this epic story.

 

Sage Valmiki, painting, unknown artist.

By …, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1058109

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Scene of the battle at Lanka between Rama with his forces and Ravana, print, British Library, London.

      See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

         The Kanta Nagar temple at Dinajpur in Bangladesh was built by Maharaja Pran Nath, started in 1704 and completed by his son Maharaja Ramnath by 1722. It is a magnificent edifice with fine terracotta carvings. The epics are depicted on the temple, some characters can be seen on the pillars too !

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Kantanagar temple, Dinajpur,Bangladesh.

By Kazi Rashed Abdallah – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51935398

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Detailing of terracotta, Kantanagar temple,Bangladesh.

By Tanhaaa7 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51471853

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Terracotta, Kantajiu temple, Kantanagar, Bangladesh.

By Shahnoor Habib Munmun (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Kantanji’s Temple, Dinajpur, Bangladesh.

By Omar Shehab (omarshehab) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2595736

      The Radhabinod temple at Jayadev Kenduli, a village in Birbhum district of West Bengal depicts scenes from the  epic Ramayana. It is a navaratna temple, one having nine spires. Jaydev Kenduli was believed to be the birthplace of Jayadeva, the composer of Gita-Govinda from the 12th century, a classic Sanskrit work on Radha-Krishna and the gopis of Vrindavan. The gopis were the other cowherd girls who loved Lord Krishna. The land of Birbhum has been known as the land of red mud.

 The Radhabinod temple was built by Maharaja Kirtichand of Bardhaman in the 17th century.  The Ramayana scenes at the temple depicts the battle between the demons and the monkey army or vanar-sena.

Radhabinod Temple at Jaydev Kenduli, Birbhum,West Bengal.

By Chandan Guha – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6080659

Ramayana scene at Radhabinod temple, Jaydev Kenduli, Birbhum, West Bengal.

By Chandan Guha – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6080705

 

References :

  • Terracotta art of Bengal/Biswas,S.S,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1981.
  • Indian terracotta art/Ganguly,O.C, Bombay : Rupa and Co,1959.
  • wikipedia.org

 

 

Posted by:

Soma Ghosh

© author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Battle-scenes in art : vivid images

          Battles have been a part of the history of mankind. Many battles have taken place since ancient times. Some battles are well-remembered and illustrated in art through miniature and oil paintings. The main Hindu epics of India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have two major battles in it. The Ramayana has the confrontation between Lord Rama with his vanara (monkey)army along with his brother Lakshmana against the demon King, Ravana. Ravana has abducted Lord Rama’s wife Sita during their exile in the forest and he has to liberate her from captivity in Lanka.

Battle-scene at Lanka, Ramayana,17th century.

By Sahibdin – British Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4179627

File:Battle Scene in a City, Folio from a Ramayana (Adventures of Rama) LACMA M.85.228.jpg

Battle-scene in a city, illustration,Ramayana, probably Varnanasi,early 17th century,LACMA,USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

        The Kurukshetra war is also called the Mahabharata war fought mainly between the Pandavas and Kauravas, cousin groups, for the throne of Hastinapur in the Kuru kingdom. It occurred at Kurukshetra in modern Haryana and the battle lasted for eighteen days. It has been roughly dated to 3100 B.C.

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Battle-scene, Mahabharata,Kangra painting,1800.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Kurukshetra war,9th day,painting,21st century.

By RajeshUnuppally (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Battlescene,Bhagavata purana,illustration,17th century.

See page for author [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

       The first battle of Panipat was very decisive battle in the history of India. It was fought in 1526 between the forces of Babur and the Lodi empire. It ushered in the Mughal era in India. This battle used gunpowder and fire-arms. The guns used by Babur helped him win against Ibrahim Lodi, the booming cannons scaring away Lodi’s elephants who trampled its own soldiers.

First Battle of Panipat,illustration from Baburnama,16th century.

By Painters of Babur (Baburnama) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Battle-scene with boats, from Akbarnama, Mughal painting, 16th century.

By Tulsi (the elder) (artist), Jagjivan (artist) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The fierce battle of Talikota in 1565 was fought between one of the largest South Indian empires, the Vijayanagara empire and the powerful Deccan Sultanates. Vijayanagara lost at this battle in present North Karnataka close to Bijapur.

Battle of Talikota, 16th century.

By Aftabi – Template:Ta’rif-i Husain Shahi [1][2], CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41665109

       The seige of Seringapatnam or Srirangapatnam in 1799 also called the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War will be remembered in history for ever. It was a confrontation between the British East India Company and the Kingdom of Mysore. The British allied with the Nizam of Hyderabad and stormed the fort of Seringapatnam. Tipu Sulan  Mysore’s de-facto ruler was killed in the action. After the decisive battle the British restored the Wodeyar dynasty to the throne while keeping indirect control over Mysore

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Battle at Seringapatnam,Qajar painting,Persia,1836/7.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Battlescene, Kangra painting,19th century.

By White House [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    The battle of Plassey (Palashi) in 1757 was another decisive battle in India’s history.Fought between the British East India Company, it consolidated Brtish position in Bengal which later covered most of India. The battle took place on the banks of the Bhagirathi river, 150 km form Kolkata(previously Calcutta) between Siraj-ud-daowlah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal and the British East India Company.

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After Battle of Plassey,painting.

By Francis Hayman – http://www.sterlingtimes.org/memorable_images56.htm (http://www.sterlingtimes.org/clive_of_india.jpg)NPG link: http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw01347/Robert-Clive-and-Mir-Jafar-after-the-Battle-of-Plassey-1757Current image source [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=565912

References :

  • An advanced history of India/Majumdar R.C,Roychoudhuri,H.C, Datta,Kalinkar,London : Macmillan,1948.
  • wikipedia.org

 

 

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

© author