The Career of Rama: An Epic Journey Through South and Southeast Asia

Curated by Estrella Salgado, Jeffrey Martin, and Fe Susan Go


Through South and Southeast Asia, the Ramayana prevails as the mightiest literary force. It serves as a religious text, a guide for morality, and a story beloved by children and adults. Due to the Ramayana's immense popularity in diverse geographic regions, there are many different versions. Our online exhibit, generously funded by the Michigan Library Scholars program, primarily focuses on Valmiki’s Ramayana, an ancient Indian version that is widely considered to be the basis of all others. Visitors meet a cast of eclectic characters — gods, kings, demons — with unique backgrounds and motivations. At the heart of the drama is Rama, respected as a true hero by both his loyal allies and sworn enemies. The exhibit’s array of visual content, created between a few years to a few centuries ago, emphasizes the work’s enduring nature. It is my hope that newcomers to the Ramayana come to appreciate the complex relationships, timeless themes, and electrifying plot twists that make the epic so remarkable.

Estrella Salgado, Michigan Library Scholar 2019