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3. THE MONKEYS DEVASTATE THE MADHUVANA GROVE
India (Chamba),
circa 1800-1810
Height: 26.8 cm Width: 36.5 cm
THE MONKEYS DEVASTATE THE MADHUVANA GROVE

Opaque pigments and gold and silver on paper within narrow blue and wide red borders.

Leaping down from the summit of Mount Mahendra with uncontrollable excitement, flush with pride at the overwhelming success of their mission and eager to report to Rama their findings, the monkeys hurtle homeward at breakneck speed. Nearing Kishkindha, they arrive at Sugriva’s celestial grove of Madhuvana, planted with countless fruit trees and swarming with honey bees. They are given permission to partake of fruits and honey by Dadhimukha, Sugriva’s uncle who is the guardian of the grove but the feast soon descends into a drunken orgy of excess as the intoxicated monkeys begin to sing, laugh, clap, boast and fight with each other as well as the guardians of the grove, stripping the trees of fruits, flowers and leaves and laying waste to the whole of Madhuvana. Drunk with liquor and giddy with arrogance, the celebration descends into a disrespectful plunder of the royal orchard. Even Prince Angada behaves improperly by striking his granduncle Dadhimukha, while some of the monkeys collapse in a stupor after their overindulgence.

Yet when Dadhimukha flies to Mount Prasravana to complain to Sugriva, the monkey king realises at once that such an escapade would not happen if the troops had failed in their mission. Sugriva deduces that Hanuman has found Sita and therefore the monkeys deserve their feast as a reward. He tells Dadhimukha to bear with the arrogance of the victorious and sends him to fetch the monkeys. On the right, we see Hanuman bowing before Rama who presents him with a necklace in appreciation of his triumphs.


Provenance:
Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959)

Dr Latifi, an eminent civil servant, collected Indian works of art from the 1930s to the 1950s. He amassed a substantial collection of Indian paintings from which some paintings were loaned to the Royal Academy exhibition in London entitled, The Art of India and Pakistan, 1947-1948.

Private London Collection

Reference:
The Ramayana of Vakmiki, translated by Hari Prasad Shastri, 1953-1959, Sundara Kanda, chapters 61-64.


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