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Epics from the Hills: Pahari Paintings of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, 1750–1850

December 17, 1997–June 28, 1998

Pahari—"of the hills"—designates the Himalayan foothill region of northern India. Between 1750 and 1850 painters, patronized by the many local rulers of this area, strove in their art to create an ideally beautiful world of lush mountain landscapes and graceful, winsome figures. The paintings in this exhibition illustrate episodes from the great religious epics of India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The Ramayana recounts the adventures of Lord Rama who, aided by armies of monkeys and bears, battles to rescue his wife from the demon Ravana. The Mahabharata tells of the strife between two families of cousins and the war that ensued. Both epics are not only monumental tales of magic and adventure, but also works of utmost religious significance for Hindus worldwide—and never were they illustrated with greater charm than by the Pahari master painters.

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Darielle Mason • Stella Kramrisch Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art

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