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Adaptations of Sanskrit Narratives and Iconographies in the 21st Century: Comics and Video Games for Entertainment and Education

id: 6uhud


· Xenia Zeiler University of Helsinki (Helsinki, Finland)


Adaptations of South Asian Narratives Across Time and Space


Sanskrit mythologies and their iconographies have served as a highly important source for both retelling and inspiration in basically all South Asian media genres, including textual media such as novels and new media such as comics and more recently, video games. The ways in which the original narratives and iconographies have been adapted are various and complex; they range from storytelling which remains extremely close to the original, to innovative reinterpretations. Equally diverse are the ways in which certain aesthetics are utilized to visualize such originally non-visual, i.e. textual, material.

This paper presents an overview, analysis and discussion of examples for adaptions of very popular mythological narratives and their iconographies of Hindu deities, in particular goddesses such as Durgā, in two exemplary new media genres, comics and video games. It presents prominent cases which primarily aim at entertainment or education or both. While Indian comics, including but by no means limited to Amar Citra Katha, have long been a set factor when it comes to textual and visual adaptions, more recently, also video games increasingly make use of Sanskrit narratives and the iconographies they entail. Interestingly and maybe contradictory to preliminary expectations, by far not all adaptions make extensive use of the technical possibilities provided by the respective media genres and/or may be termed creative or innovative. The array of how original narratives and iconographies are content-wise and aesthetically adapted are thus indicative of of the respective artists’, companies’ or producers’ value systems and aims, ranging from transformative to consolidating.