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Ragamala Painting of Dhanasri Ragini, c. 1690


Credit: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Wiener

Ragamala paintings represent a confluence of three Indian artistic traditions—classical music, poetry, and miniature painting. Consisting of an album of between thirty-six and forty-two painted folio sheets, Ragamalas are organized according to families. Six male Ragas, who personify the six principal musical modes, each possess a harem of five Raginis (wives), or secondary musical modes, and often head a family of several Ragaputras (sons) and Ragaputris (daughters).

In this folio from a Ragamala album, a Ragini, longing for her lover, paints his portrait in the belief that the image of something real can conjure up the subject of the image. The floating moon and fiery red background suggest the intensity of her passion. Many such miniatures were contained in Ragamala albums which followed Indian music in its organization into several modes. Each mode had a special mood and time of day associated with it, at which time its related music and paintings would have been experienced simultaneously. The bright, saturated color of this nocturnal scene is typical of the indigenous folk art of the Mewar.


Mr. and Mrs. Ed Wiener, New York;

acquired by Kimbell Art Foundation, 1975, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Wiener, New York.

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