Musical notation, on four-line red staves, 13th century. Image taken from f. 251v of Chronique des ducs de Normandie (index Chronicle of Normandy; Chronique de Normandie). Written in French.
A prince, fanned by an attendant, is taking pan, a refreshing and slightly narcotic mixture of betel nut, powdered lime, and condiments wrapped in a leaf.
Vasant (spring) is evoked here by the dancing nobleman playing the role of Krishna in celebration of the coming of spring, witnessed by the flowering plants in the foreground, the flowers in the nobleman’s head... more
These screens depict the “Takebun” episode of “The New Piece” (“Shinkyoku”), an example of the kōwakamai type of musical drama popular in the sixteenth century. Originally derived from a tragic episode from the... more
The texts related to this ragini tell of a vivacious woman anxiously waiting for her lover, who arrives far too late. The written sources build tension by describing her high spirits and excitement at being nea... more
Ragamala texts describe the woman in this scene as “a lady whose gesture is one of languor and silence, whose eyes are restless from lack of sleep, who is exhausted by the effort of love-making.” Here, the arti... more
The meticulously crafted images of a brocade hat and mouth organ that adorn this box resonate multiple auspicious associations. The hat bears a medallion depicting a phoenix, and its shape suggests the head of ... more
Here Krishna dances to the beat of a drum and cymbals played by women standing at either side of him. The new shoots emerging out of the pot Krishna holds in one hand and the flowering trees above the figures a... more
The Dipak Raga is associated with night and is meant to evoke the mood of intimacy between lovers. Legend has it that one of Emperor Akbar’s musicians started a palace fire after being forced to play this raga ... more
This ragini evokes the rainy season and is given dramatic expression by the bands of heavy clouds and snakelike bolts of lightning across the upper register. The associated text by Lachiman Das tells of a woman... more
In this unidentified Ragamala page, two women sit in conversation while a third looks on. Marwari taste for saturated red and orange earth tones and a formal presentation are perfectly typified. The flowers abo... more
This painting perfectly illustrates the Malkos raga text, which describes a lord attended by a woman with a fly whisk who is entertained by others that play heavenly music like gandharvas; he wears a necklace o... more
The text of this Ragini tells of peacocks that cry at the threat of rain—here shown in the roiling black horizon and blue lines. Thinking that the peacock’s cry comes from hunger, a lady offers food. The audien... more
The patron here has inserted himself as a participant in the popular Panchama Ragini musical composition: he reaches out to pay the two musicians. The text of this ragini speaks of his contented happiness and l... more
A female devotee is worshiping at a Shaiva shrine inside a palace compound, with a lotus pond in the foreground. She has placed an offerings of fresh flowers on the linga and, as we know from the ragamala verse... more
Here a female mendicant makes a Vedic fire offering to the god Brahma who is represented with four overlapping faces and holds a text, rosary (mala), and flower. An earlier ragamala text of 1550 provides the fo... more
This morning raga shows the sleeping woman and her lover, who is silently departing after a night of passion: “Wearing many ornaments and garments, splendid, the fair mistress lies exhausted upon her bed at daw... more
The conventions of this ragini vary, but the usual theme is a lady waiting for her lover. Here, she stands at the door, possibly looking out for him. This analysis is buttressed by the empty bed and the actions... more
The Vilaval ragaini is to be performed in the morning, as suggested by the sun rising in a dark sky. In poetry this raga is described as a lady preparing to meet her lover, and here she is shown looking in a mi... more
The artist Ruknuddin has combined creatively a number of ragamala texts to make this evocative masterpiece. Following artistic precedent and the texts, he shows an ascetic “in penance, adorned, gray [with ashes... more
Vairari Ragini, Wife of Bhairav Raga: Page from a Dispersed Ragamala Series (Garland of Musical Modes)
The set to which this page belongs seems to be a slightly later copy of the 1709 Amber ragamala series. The poetic description of Vairari Ragini in that set reads:Know [her] full of skills and extremely handsom... more
All Indian paintings are begun with an underdrawing sketched with brush and ink, as seen here, where the bold use of line to demarcate the architectural forms gives the work its structure. The simply presented ... more
The Amber ragamala text of which this work is a part offers the following description of this ragini: “Her sari, soaked with kesara [saffron], is enchanting. [Her] musk caste mark at the forehead bewitches the ... more
Vasant means “spring,” and here, two women stand in a burgeoning springtime landscape, filling baskets with flowers. The style of the picture and its vertical format are close to those seen in works from early ... more
Within the palace interior a lady reclines on her bed, restlessly pulling her hair in frustration at the absence of her lover. Her maids are outside, sheltering themselves with their saris from a great thunders... more
Within the ragamala tradition the association of music, text, and image is not always obvious. In this instance, in accord with visualizing music in a heroic mode, a male figure is described in the text as “[g]... more
Krishna and Radha are shown outside a pavilion. He holds a lute and touches her forehead. She raises her hands to him in anjalimudra, the gesture of reverence.
Krishna, seated on a lotus throne, is being fanned by an attendant. He holds a lute in his lap and reaches toward a crane with his left hand
A prince attended by two female servants speaks to his beloved, who stands beneath a flowering banana tree. Silver grays and cool greens and whites dominate, masterfully contrasting with the less plentiful reds... more
The design of this surimono, a sumptuous print commissioned by one of the poetry clubs that flourished in the urban society of early-nineteenth-century Edo, uses the accoutrements of a Bugaku performance as aus... more
Leaflet advertisement for replica of mechanical clock of teh Gothic cathedral of Strasbourg, France. Engraved sheet (Copy neg. showing p. 1 [illustrated cover] and p. 4.