Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kadal Kanni

South Indian mermaid among schools of fishes

Was inspired to draw a South Asian mermaid after looking at Southeast Asian paintings of mermaids from the Ramayana epic, in which merfolk were deployed to destroy the bridge that Rama was building to Lanka.1 According to tradition, this bridge started in Rameswaram in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.2

Rama's ally Hanuman and his monkey army laid the bridge. In Indian tradition, Hanuman is celibate,4 but in the Thai retelling of the Ramayana, Hanuman fathered a son with Ravana's mermaid daughter,5 who had been ordered by her father to destroy the bridge.1
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Notes
  1. Thai mural scene with Ravana instructing mermaid daughter to destroy bridge (learnnc.org),
    Balinese painting of Ravana's mermaid daughter and Hanuman (learnnc.org),
    Merman and mermaid in Thai Ramayana mural (learnnc.org)
  2. Rameswaram (wikipedia)
  3. Chiranjivis or Nine immortals of Hindu Mythology
  4. Hanuman battles his half-mermaid son in Thai Ramayana mural (learnnc.org)

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