Epic Tales from India: Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art

Rama and Sita enthroned, ca. 1800. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper 24.7 cm x 18.5 cm. Edwin Binney 3rd Collection


Featured Media 

Listen to clips of raga performances, a selection from a Shahnama recitation, and an animated retelling of the Ramayana.

Indian paintings are usually admired as individual works of art, framed and hung on museum walls, but viewing them this way reveals only part of their story. Most of these paintings come from books and were intended to accompany a text. Drawing from the San Diego Museum of Art’s renowned Edwin Binney 3rd Collection, this exhibition will introduce viewers to the world of South Asian paintings from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century through the classics of literature that they illustrate.

The 90 paintings in the exhibition will represent the most significant gathering of South Asian art ever shown at Princeton and will be arranged by book or type of book, thus placing the paintings in something approaching their original narrative context. Visitors will learn about the varied traditions of manuscript-making in the region, and be introduced to the most famous works of South Asian literature—from sacred texts in Sanskrit to the range of secular stories, poems and histories that became popular in later centuries.

Also visit Miniature Paintings from South Asia, on view in the Asian galleries

Epic Tales from India: Paintings from the San Diego Museum of Art has been organized by the San Diego Museum of Art.

The exhibition at Princeton has been made possible by generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts; the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation; Susan and John Diekman, Class of 1965; Padmaja Kumari and Kush M. Parmar, Class of 2002; and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, with additional support from the Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Exhibitions Fund; Amy and Robert Poster, Class of 1962; the Chopra Family Youth and Community Program Fund; and the Friends of the Princeton University Art Museum. Further support has been provided by the Program in South Asian Studies, the Center for the Study of Religion, the Department of Comparative Literature, and the Office of Religious Life, Princeton University.