Representing Ravana: Images of the Rakshasa King in India and Abroad
Visually, artists have represented Ravana in striking ways. In performances as well, Ravana’s appearance and costume usually stand out. Part of his unique appearance derives from his ten heads, but other aspects—his veena playing, his love of wealth and possessions, and the extraordinary asceticism he performed to earn his boons—have contributed to his unusual representation. In this lecture, we’ll look at some of the many ways in which artists, performers, and advertisements have represented Ravana.
Paula Richman, William Danforth Professor of South Asian Studies at Oberlin College near Cleveland, USA, has published two books on Tamil literature: Women, Branch Stories, and Religious Rhetoric in a Tamil Buddhist Text and Extraordinary Child: Translations from a Genre of Tamil Devotional Poetry. She has also published three edited volumes about the Ramayana tradition: Many Ramayanas: the Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia; Questioning Ramayanas, a South Asian Tradition, and Ramayana Stories in Modern South India. She is currently completing a monograph on tellings of the story of Rama and Sita in the 20th century by prominent literary figures, social reformers, and political leaders.