The Newsletter 71 Summer 2015

Impermanent frescoes: Localization of the Rāmāyaṇa in mainland Southeast Asia

William Noseworthy

<p>Unlike the handful of European texts that can truly claim global popularity, the influence of Valmiki’s <em>Rāmāyaṇa</em> has not been due to its ‘permanence’, but rather its flexibility. Hundreds of variations blossomed across South and Southeast Asia for the past two and a half millennia, making the <em>Rāmāyaṇa</em> one of the most accessible texts in the history of literature. Known as the <em>Ramakien</em> in Thailand, the <em>Rian Reamkerti</em> in Cambodia and the <em>Phra Lak Phra Lam</em> to the Lao people, the text has inspired popular performance traditions and several schools of painters who worked on the canvases of royal halls and temple walls.</p>