Painting of "Malasri Ragini" - ROM2009_10848_11


Painting of "Malasri Ragini"

Medium:opaque watercolour on paper
Geography: Mewar, Rajasthan
Date: circa 1675
Object number: 2009.10.11
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 Malasri Ragini. Malasri is the second wife of Bhairav Raga, often represented as lady with attendent dreaming of lover and nocturnal lovemaking. The scenes depicted in Ragamala paintings often reflect themes of devotion, or heroism, but by far the most common theme in Ragamala painting is romance, as seen here. Paintings with this theme tend to show a woman in different stages of interacting with her lover – awaiting his arrival, adorning herself in preparation for the meeting, and asleep as he leaves the bedchamber, etc. These scenes are meant to reflect the various shades of emotion – from longing and anticipation to fulfillment and peace – generated by the corresponding modes of music. The dominance of romance in Ragamala paintings, one scholar suggests, may reflect the preoccupations of what may have been an elite female audience who were the primary patrons of the paintings.
South Asia
If you see an error or have additional information, please contact us by clicking here.