Jatayu, Bali painting-banner E074240 Click to enlarge image
This painting was collected by Anthony Forge from a temple in Gelgel, Klungkung district, and dates from around 1900. It is rare that it survived so long as it would have been hung outside on a bamboo pole. Signs of some deterioration are evident. Size 78x67 cm. Image: Stan Florek
© Australian Museum

The mythical bird Jatayu plays an important role in the Ramayana story. Jatayu is a good friend of Rama’s father, Dasaratha, the King of Ayodhya. When demonic king Rawana abducted goddess Sita, the bird Jatayu hears her cries as she is being carried away in Rwana’s flying chariot. The bird attacks Rawana, destroying the chariot and rescuing Sita. However Jatayu has difficulty flying, so Rawana strikes back and cuts off one of his wings.

Rama then discovers the broken wing and fallen chariot in the forest. Nearby lies badly wounded Jatayu. Before he dies he tells Rama what happened. Jatayu is cremated by Rama and his brother Laksmana.

This banner is from a temple in Gelgel, Klungkung district, and was painted around 1900. It was hung on a pole outside the temple. Banners like this, kober, are normally produced in pairs to depict similar but opposed mythological characters or a complementary male and female.