The Monkeys and Bears Build a Bridge to Lanka
Page from a dispersed series of the Ramayana (Legend of Lord Rama)
Artist/maker unknown, Indian
Well-armed but dressed in skins and leaves to indicate their status as exiles, the divine Prince Rama and his brother Lakshmana sit on the southern shore of India. They look across the water to the island of Lanka where Rama's wife, Sita, is imprisoned by the demon Ravana. Rama instructs his allied armies of monkeys and bears to build a bridge to Lanka. The two most common types of Indian monkeys come together for this work-red-faced, rusty-coated, and stocky rhesus macaques and black-faced, gray-coated, and lanky Hanuman langurs. They are joined by an army of long-nosed sloth bears, a species common across India. The animals hurl boulders into the ocean to form the causeway, seen at the left, that cuts through a swirling ocean inhabited by a great variety of real and imaginary sea creatures.