Ragamala Series: Scene of a lady and her maid

Accession Number

Ragamala Series: Scene of a lady and her maid

Artist Unknown, India, Rajasthan, Jaipur School

Object Creation Date
circa 1800

Medium & Support
ink and opaque watercolor on paper

13 in x 9 3/4 in (33 cm x 24.7 cm);13 in x 9 3/4 in (33 cm x 24.7 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Leo S. Figiel and Dr. and Mrs. Steven J. Figiel

Subject matter
Ragamala paintings draw from aspects of human experience in order to visualize specific moods, emotions, and qualities such as love, anguish, valor, weakness, and strength. A raga in Indian music is a melody consisting of a string of notes in a particular arrangement. Raginis are derivations from or variations of ragas in feminine mode (the basis of these classifications remains unexplained in many cases), and could have different or similar musical structures as ragas. Specific ragas are associated with specific times of the day, seasons, and emotions. When visualized, as here, ragas and raginis are meant to evoke the same affective responses that are allied to their musical modes. The text above the illustration refers to stories or incidents associated with the depicted raga/ ragini, but may not necessarily be narrative-like or descriptive. Drawn from literary tropes and tales that sophisticated writers and viewers would be aware of, the inscriptions are an integral part of the overall experience of this miniature painting. An illiterate viewer, however, could still enjoy the scene without reading the text.

The lady and her maid in this depiction are shown collecting flowers in the vessel (kalash) placed before them. In other versions of the Gunakari Ragini, a lady surrounded by birds and foliage is shown plucking flowers from a plant and collecting them in a vessel. Perhaps this is an enjoyable and reflexive activity, conducted during the daytime. Ragmala paintings also find place within the Pahari and Deccani painting traditions of the Indian subcontinent.

Physical Description
A lady is seated in an open-air terrace, facing her attendant. They both seem to be in conversation and are holding tiny white flowers in their hands. An object that looks like a kalash or pot is placed between them, containing what could be white colored flowers. A pavilion in the background is set in front of the morning sky. A short verse is painted above the depicted scene.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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