LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Twenty-armed Ravana fights eagle king Sadayu on Indian painting

The eagle king fights Ravanain an attempt to recover Sita. (Photograph by Margery H. Freeman. More about the photograph)

A twenty-armed and ten-headed demon king Ravana fights the eagle king Sadayu in a detail from an Indian Ramayana painting.

Sadayu on the left is trying to pick out one of Ravana’s eyes from one of his ten heads, while Ravana is using his twenty arms to wave swords, lances, axes, ropes, and snakes at Sadayu.

Ravana is portrayed with dark skin, beards, and wild flying hair. Five of his heads look left at Sadayu while the other five look in the opposite direction to the right. One of his lower arms at the left has stabbed Sadayu with a sharp weapon and blood is visible in the feathers around the wound.

Ravana wears a white pleated tunic belted at his waist. The white cloth of Ravana’s tunic and his eyes contrast sharply with his dark skin, belt, weapons, and Sadayu’s dark feathers. The entire scene is set on a bright yellow background.