There is a famous episode from the Indian Ramayana epic in which Ravana, the ten-headed demon king of Lanka, carries away Sita, the story’s heroine, in a horse-drawn carriage. Sita is the wife of Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu born to oppose the evil Ravana. The vulture god Jatayu is allied with Rama and bravely battles Ravana before being overpowered. Five of Ravana’s heads are visible in the chariot, which is caught in Jatayu’s beak. The great bird later helps lead Rama to Sita.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label