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Demon Maricha in the guise of a Deer.

This Pahari painting in Kangra style from Chamba, India depicts a very important scene from the Indian epic the Ramayana. Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana chances to see Rama and falls madly in love with him.

Surpanakha, whose advances are rejected by both Rama and Lakshmana, tries to attack Sita who seemed to be the obstacle in her path to attain Rama. Lakshmana comes to Sita’s rescue and cuts off the nose and ears of Surpanakha who runs off from Panchavadi roaring loudly in anger and pain and complains bitterly to Ravana. Enraged by the humiliation suffered by Surpanakha and piqued by Surpanakha’s description of Sita’s beauty and charm, Ravana decides to avenge this insult to his family. With the help of Maricha, a demon with magical powers, he plans to abduct Sita.

Maricha assumes the shape of a deer and comes to Panchavadi. Sita is captivated by the radiant beauty of the golden deer and insists on Rama capturing it for her. Disregarding Lakshmana’s warning that it may be a rakshasa in the guise of a deer, Rama goes in pursuit, asking Lakshmana to guard Sita. In this painting we see Maricha tantalizing Sita with its radiant loveliness and then appearing before Rama and Lakshmana to impress them with its beauty and grace.

This painting takes one to the magical world of miniature painting, an art which flourished in the Chamba region in the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries.