Jewellery Box


Jewellery Box



The box rests on four legs carved in the shape of lion heads. The sides of the box are divided into a number of panels depicting episodes from the Balakanda (Book of Childhood), Ayodhyakanda (Book of Ayodhya), Aranyakanda (Book of the Forest), and Yuddhakanda (Book of War) of the Ramayana.

The lid is carved in bold relief and shows three incidents from the Ramayana. In the centre is the scene of Ayodhya with the Sages Vishvamitra and Vashishtha, King Dasharatha, and Princes Rama and Lakshmana. Sage Vishvamitra is shown requesting King Dasharatha to send his sons with him to his hermitage to kill the demons who were disturbing their rituals. The panel on the right depicts Rama breaking the Shivadhanushya – the divine bow of Shiva – at Sita’s svayamvara (an ancient Indian custom of marriage where the bride chooses her groom after certain tests). On the left is carved the coronation of Rama after his victorious return to Ayodhya.
All the side panels are carved in low relief. Three panels on the front of the box show the burning of Lanka by Hanuman after handing over Rama’s ring to the captive Sita; the battle between the two armies; and the combat between Rama and Ravana.

The panels at the back depict Ravana approaching Sita in disguise as a mendicant; Rama and Lakshmana hunting for Suvarnamriga (the golden antelope); the meeting of Rama and Lakshmana with Hanuman; the abduction of Sita and Ravana’s encounter with Jatayu; and the combat between the monkey king Vali and his brother Sugriva watched by Hanuman, Rama, and Lakshmana.
On the side panels, Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita are shown crossing the river on a boat. In another panel monkeys and bears are shown constructing a bridge to cross the ocean to reach Lanka. In the same panel Rama is shown worshipping a Shivalinga, probably at Rameshwar.
The figures of monkeys, bears, and rakshasas in the form of fierce animals are carved with great skill along the borders of the lid. Many other episodes from the Ramayana are depicted around the main panel of the lid.

The artist has not left even a bit of the surface uncarved. All the scenes are realistically shown and the faces of both humans and animals are very expressive. Ivory boxes with carvings of tropical animals and birds, or scenes from the great Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, were very popular with officers of the East India Company.

Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection.


Indian Decorative Art

Object Type

Decorative Art








20th Century CE




43 x 17.5 x 15.7 cm