Nearly 120 ancient paintings charting the life, struggles and eventual triumph of the legendary Indian king Rama go on show to the public on Friday for the first time at the British Library.
The highly detailed and lavishly illustrated pictures which date from the 17th century were formerly bound together in book form and available only for scholarly study.
"I am thrilled that we are able to display the magnificent Mewar Ramayana manuscript, one of the finest manuscripts of the Ramayana epic ever produced," said exhibition curator Jerry Losty.
"This is one of the great secular texts of world literature. Its influence spread not just across India but the whole of South East Asia and endures to this day," he said at a preview on Thursday of "The Ramayana -- love and valour in India's great epic."
The story is still retold regularly in films, dances, songs and puppet shows.
The panels, each accompanied by a text explanation of what is happening and its significance to the story, detail each step in the life of Rama who is considered to be the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, the supreme Hindu god.
Originally comprising 400 paintings and 24,000 verses of text in Sanskrit, the pictures were bound in seven volumes of which the British Library has four and a half.