Painting of "Vasant (or Basant) Ragini" - ROM2009_10848_19

ROM2009_10848_19

Painting of "Vasant (or Basant) Ragini"

Medium:opaque watercolour on paper
Geography: Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Date: 18th century
Period: Early Modern Period
Dimensions:
33 x 22 cm
Object number: 2009.10.19
Credit Line: Charles Green Collection. This acquisition was made possible with the generous support of the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust Fund. Certified by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act. Attestė par la Commission canadienne d’examen des exportations de biens culturels en vertu de la Loi sur l’exportation et l’importation de biens culturels.
Not on view
DescriptionThe genre of Ragamala paintings flourished in western India, the Deccan, and the Pahari region during the 16th to 19th centuries. Ragamala painting is a confluence of three artistic forms: music, poetry, and painting. They are illustrations of poetic verses composed to go along with codified modes of classical Indian music. Ragamala paintings correspond to modes of classical Indian music called "Ragas". A Raga can be loosely translated as a melody, cluster of notes, or tonal framework for composition and improvisation that evokes a particular musical idea and is associated with a certain emotive state. The word raga comes from the Sanskrit root "ranga", meaning ‘colour’ and is said to be “that which tinges the mind with colour”. Mala means ‘necklace’ or ‘garland’. Thus Ragamala refers to a set or garland of musical modes. Applied to visual art, the term refers to the set of paintings of which this painting would have originally been a part. In the evolution of Indian music, Ragas became associated with certain Hindu deities who were understood to ‘descend’ into the music during a particularly inspired performance. To address the deified form, prayer formulas (dhyanas) were devised and passed from teacher to student. In the 15th -16th centuries, with the resurgence of popular Hinduism commonly referred to as The Bhakti Movement, poets and preachers captured the hearts of people with songs and poems extolling the human characteristics of the divine. Poets composed verses to go along with Ragas that described deities in various situations, especially devotional, romantic, or heroic contexts. These poems, often inscribed on the back or front of the works themselves, serve as the basis of the visual imagery in Ragamala painting. This particular painting is the Vasant Raga which, like the Megha Raga, usually depicts Krishna dancing among maidens. In this work, Krishna is replaced by a royal figure who may represent Kama, the God of Love, tenderly grasping his beloved. They are surrounded by musicians and attendents celebrating the Spring festival of Holi throwing brightly-coloured powder and squirting coloured water on each other. Songs in raga Basant may portray the pain of separated lovers longing to be united during this colourful season.
Collection:
South Asia
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