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female ascetic plays music for a princely visitor, personifying a musical mode (probably Bhupali Ragini)
Place of Origin: India, West Bengal state
Place of Origin: India, former province of Avadh, Uttar Pradesh state
Date: approx. 1750-1775
Materials: Opaque watercolors on paper
Dimensions: H. 8 1/2 in x W. 6 1/4 in, H. 21.6 cm x W. 15.9
Credit Line: Gift of George Hopper Fitch
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: 1996.8
On Display: No

Description

Label: The central figure in this painting is the personification of a feminine musical mode (ragini). She appears as a female yogi, with a characteristic topknot of hair, a tiger skin, and a stringed instrument in her hands. Seated before her is a prince smoking a water pipe, and to her left is a bearded male ascetic in a posture of meditation. Female ascetics in Indian paintings are often understood to be women who are suffering the pain of separation from their lovers. Such depictions were especially popular in sets of paintings known as ragamala (garlands of musical modes). In these sets, various musical modes were idealized as human figures engaged in activities or placed in settings evoking specific emotions, moods, and times of day. There is a great variety in both the classification and the illustration of musical modes in India. Though some images are easy to identify, the exact identity of this one is unclear. In iconography, it seems to follow descriptions of the musical mode known as Kedara Ragini, which is sometimes depicted as a female ascetic playing music for a princely visitor.

More Information

Additional Label:

Night has fallen, the moon and stars shine in the sky as the yogini, in anguished separation from her divine beloved, continues to play on the vina (lute). A princely visitor, a meditating yogi, a cat, and a dog listen enraptured while she, with her eyes half-closed, appears to be elsewhere.

(Object label from Worshiping Women: Power and Devotion in Indian Painting.)


Label: The central figure in this painting is the personification of a feminine musical mode (ragini). She appears as a female yogi, with a characteristic topknot of hair, a tiger skin, and a stringed instrument in her hands. Seated before her is a prince smoking a water pipe, and to her left is a bearded male ascetic in a posture of meditation. Female ascetics in Indian paintings are often understood to be women who are suffering the pain of separation from their lovers. Such depictions were especially popular in sets of paintings known as ragamala (garlands of musical modes). In these sets, various musical modes were idealized as human figures engaged in activities or placed in settings evoking specific emotions, moods, and times of day. There is a great variety in both the classification and the illustration of musical modes in India. Though some images are easy to identify, the exact identity of this one is unclear. In iconography, it seems to follow descriptions of the musical mode known as Kedara Ragini, which is sometimes depicted as a female ascetic playing music for a princely visitor.
Expanded Label:

Night has fallen, the moon and stars shine in the sky as the yogini, in anguished separation from her divine beloved, continues to play on the vina (lute). A princely visitor, a meditating yogi, a cat, and a dog listen enraptured while she, with her eyes half-closed, appears to be elsewhere.

(Object label from Worshiping Women: Power and Devotion in Indian Painting.)