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One of the world's most enduring stories, The Ramayana has been told and retold throughout India and South East Asia for more than 2,000 years. Today, a collection of lavishly illustrated 17th-century manuscripts of the Sanskrit epic, hidden away in the archives of the British Library since 1844, goes on public display for the first time.
The Ramayana follows the quest of Prince Rama, exiled from his kingdom of Ayodha, to rescue his beautiful wife Sita from the demon king Ravana, with the help of an army of monkeys. Dating to somewhere between 500 and 100BC, and traditionally attributed to the sage Valmiki, the story originated in northern India, but quickly spread throughout the whole subcontinent, crossing religious as well as geographical boundaries. Story and, of course, pictures from The Independent UK.