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Ramayana paintings mesmerise the Swiss

world Updated: Jul 13, 2008 11:55 IST

Ramayana is the flavour of the season in this Swiss city with ancient artworks depicting the mythological drama attracting a large audience in perhaps the first such exhibition in Zurich.

On display at Rietberg Museum are some of the masterpieces predominantly from the Pahari School of Art. These small-format paintings embrace a wide range of traditions and stylistic developments.

Among the most splendid works on display are four folios belonging to a Persian translation of the Ramayana prepared during the reign of Moghul emperor Akbar (1556-1605).

"The work, created for the emperor's mother by the most respected painters of the time, is an excellent example of the fusion of the Persian and Indian artistic traditions," said Eberhard Fischer, the director of Rietberg museum.

But perhaps the highlight of the exhibition are the 16 scenes from the little Guler Ramayana (1775-80), comprising detailed and imaginative illustrations of the epic.

With newspapers carrying colour supplements and television channels giving intensive coverage to the exhibition, the story of the triumph of good over evil has indeed caught the imagination of people in Zurich.

According to the organisers of the exhibition "the Ramayana series created at the courts of the Rajasthani princes are notable for their striking use of colour and proto realism, and are a testament to the lively circulation of ideas among Indian painters".

The exhibition is laid out in such a manner that viewers feel invited to enter the world of the Ramayana and visit the epic's key sites.

Visitors can also watch a traditional puppet show from Karnataka by SA Krishnaiah and B Veerana. The puppeteers and musicians enact an episode from Ramayana twice daily at the exhibition which will continue next month.