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Leaf from a Ragamala Set

Early 18th Century

Amer School, Rajasthan

Size: 10 x 6 in (25.4 x 15.2 cm)

Ragamala literally translates as 'garland of musical notes'. Ragamala paintings synthesize music, poetry and painting. A Raga is a combination of notes. These notes are said to create a mood depending on their combination. Therefore there exist different seasons, occasions and times for singing these ragas. Painters in medieval times made pictorial translations for these notes. These resulted in Ragamala Paintings.

This fine Ragamala painting is from the Amer School and represents Gauri Ragini, an evening raga associated with autumn and a contemplative mood. A pretty looking dusky lady, wearing a short tight choli and a long golden skirt, with an odhna covering her head, is seen seated on a carpet with her head bent low, awaiting her lover. She is longingly looking at a bed with a wonderful canopy. The lady has expressive eyes, a sharp nose and small lips. Her jewellery consists of gold and pearl necklaces, earrings, armbands, anklets and bangles. She holds a twig of leaves in her right hand. The house is well decorated; there are niches on the wall, holding long-necked bottles, and the floor has a beautiful green carpet with a red border. A bed is placed with two pillows on it. The doorway is adorned with a lovely embroidered curtain that has been rolled and tied. The terrace wall is delicately painted. Thickly foliated trees can be seen beyond the boundary wall. The four-post bed with a purple and gold canopy in the courtyard has a pillow kept in one corner. A focal point of this painting is the copious use of gold paint on the skirt of the lady, the thick bolster against which she rests, the border of the curtain within the house as well as on the curtain hanging on the doorway to the entrance to the house. A thick border around the canopy is also gold painted. There is a lovely red with green border sun-shade above the entrance to the house.

There are various pictorial representations of Gauri Ragini. This unusual one shows the lover in waiting dressing her hair with flowers from a mango tree. One can see a branch of the tree in her hand with leaves and fruits. The bed next to her has been decorated with petals. She awaits the arrival of her lover. The four line script on the top describes the subject. It is very rare to find paintings of this quality and period in such mint condition.




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