The Story of Ramayama / Ramakien

Illustrations Found On Niello Items

The Siam Sterling Theme: Ramakien

The common "theme" of Siam sterling Nielloware is based on an epic legend called Ramayana, its Thai adaption, Ramakien, (transformed into plays, art works, stories, and jewelry). The Ramayama legend, as written by the Indian poet Valmika, is reputedly 25,000 verses, and known throughout India, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and neighboring countries. It is a story that teaches the moral lessons that are part of both Hindu and Buddhist cultures. The primary moral lesson concerns the "Dharma," often called "The Wheel of Life," and relates to the importance of living in ethical harmony with the "flow" of Nature, doing good works, and having harmonius family relations. The "lesson" is that of "Karma" - the concept that when one performs any action, if it is done with good intentions, you will receive good things in return. A recent Western statement which reflects this concept is "What goes around, comes around."

Although the Ramakien is somewhat different than the original Ramayama, Thai king Rama (and, later, his son, Rama II) adapted Ramakien to take place in Thailand, and reflect Thai culture. The original story, Ramayama, takes place in India, at about 1000 B.C. It tells of Rama, prince and heir to the throne, his beautiful wife (Sita), and Ravana, the (evil) ruler of Ceylon, (sometimes called Lanka -- now Sri Lanka).

In the Indian province of Aydohya, Prince Rama was the eldest of four sons to the King, Dasharatha, and was his father's favorite, but his stepmother wanted another son (Bharata) to be king when the father retired. The King had promised his wife any two wishes she desired, so she told the King she wanted Rama to be banished from the kingdom, and Bharata to be crowned upon the King's retirement. The King reluctantly agreed and issued a 14 year banishment to Rama. Rama, the good son, accepted his father's decree. Rama's wife, Sita, begged to accompany Rama to the forest retreat where he was to be banished. Rama agreed, and he, Sita, and one of his brothers, Lakshman, leave home to go to their forest retreat.

When the brother Bharata learns of his stepmother's wish and father's acceptance, he is shocked, and leaves to find Rama and tell him that as the eldest brother, it was Rama's obligation to rule. Rama tells Bharata that he cannot return because he can ot go against his father's command. Bharata then takes his brother's sandals, stating that he would rule the Kingdom as a regent (a representative of the "true" King), and would place royal offerings in front of the sandals, which would represent Bharata's acknowledgment of the true King.

As the years pass, Rama, Sita and Lakshman live happily in the forest. One day, an evil female attempts to seduce Rama, but Lakshman wounds her, and drives her away. When her brother, Ravana, the ten-headed ruler of Ceylon is told of this, and told that Sita is a most beautiful princess, he decides to take Sita for his wife. He devises a plan to abduct Sita, and he does this, taking her back to Ceylon.

Rama calls for the aid of the forest's "Monkey Army," led by Hanuman, the "Monkey-General," and after building a causeway from India to Ceylon, they catch up with Ravana and Sita. Rama confronts Ravana, and in battle, kills him. He then brings Sita safely back to the forest, determines that she has been faithful to him, and then they both return to Aydohya, where Rama is welcomed back and takes the throne as king.

Many of the characters in Ramayama/Ramakien are illustrated on Siam sterling Nielloware items, as well as temple rubbings on Thai temples: Illustrations Found On Niello Items

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