Story here.

The bravery of Lord Rama in the founding epic Ramayana is world known. But due to the limited translations, not many cultures have been able to give this masterpiece a thorough read. But a latest French version of the epic will soon be available with over 660 miniature paintings from the 16th to 19th century that explain the religious text in a gripping flow. This French edition called Ramayana by Valmiki illustrated with Indian miniatures is divided in seven volumes with 1640 pages and comes in a boxed set.

The texts were translated from Sanskrit under the supervision of late Madeleine Biardeau, a prominent Indologist and scholar Marie-Claude Porcher and the miniature paintings were collected by French editor and publisher Diane de Selliers from over 5000 miniature works. Its preface has been written by BN Goswamy, professor of Art History at Punjab University.

The book, reveals Selliers, involves about 10 years of research and hard work. The idea of doing this project came to her mind during her first family trip to India in 1997. “I had just come to visit Tamil Nadu and Kerala. But its diverse culture, rituals and people fascinated me and I also realised the relevance of these epics and also the deep respect people have for them. I wanted to go into the roots of the culture and Valmiki’s Ramayana was among the oldest available literatures,” says Selliers.

The research for the book began way back in 2000. “When you have to work on an entirely new subject and language, it is never an easy task. I knew what I wanted to do but how to achieve it was the big question. I travelled to a lot of places, including 70 museums and private collections in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, United States and India. I also went to two important centres of Indian manuscripts: New York and London. However, the main source of my entire collection remained National Museum of Delhi and its curator Daljeet Singh.”

What made her job more complicated was the 5000 miniature paintings out of which she has to select 660 based on their quality and texture. “The important thing I came to observe in India is that this country has great treasure but very few people realise that and there is very little attempt to preserve heritage,” she concludes.