Ragamala series: Raga Shri and Raga Megha

Ragamala paintings are a beautiful fusion of art, poetry and music that are inspired by the classical musical moods called ragas. They have the capacity to evoke certain emotions depending on the type of raga represented. Each raga is used to represent a particular season, day, and even time of the day. The paintings generally represent a love theme that depicts nayaka-nayika in human form, epitomising the emotion of the raga. 

Raga Shri

Shri Raga, in miniature paintings, is depicted as a young man who is as beautiful as Kamadeva. The iconography of shri Raga involves a couple listening to music or recitations. This Raga is associated with the season of autumn and is usually played during sunset. The painting here depicts Shri Raga with his consort on a terrace listening to music played by two female musicians. The orange-coloured sky in the background depicts the time of the sunset.  Shri Raga is associated with five Raginis: Basanti, Malavshri, Malvi, Dhanashri and Asavari. 

 

Raga Shri

 

Ragini Basanti

Ragini Basanti represents a woman, standing in the forest with a peacock feather in her hand. She has a blue complexioned body that shines beautifully amongst several peacocks that surround her that seem to appreciate her beauty. Ragini Basanti portrays the advent of spring when the earth blooms into a colourful place. The blooming tree with flowers and birds perching on it, in the painting depicts the onset of spring. 

 

Ragini Basanti

 

Ragini Malavashri

This Ragini is represented by a woman who holds lotus flowers in her hand. According to the inscription at the top, ‘she is decorated with different kinds of jewelry, she sits under a mango tree and laughs in a very pleasant and gentle manner.’ Here, the woman is shown under a tree listening to the song sung by her female attendant. 

 

Ragini Malavshri

 

Ragini Dhanshri

Dhanshri Ragini is depicted as a woman who is grieving the separation from her lover. The grief has struck her deeply which led her to draw the portrait of her lover. As she paints the picture of her lover, she reminisces about the good time with him and starts crying, so much so that her breasts get wet with her sorrowful tears. 

 

Ragini Dhanashri

 

Ragini Asavari

Ragini Asavari is represented by a woman who sits on the rocky mountain of Malaya. She wears a skirt of peacock feathers. The dark-skinned nayika entices snakes from the sandalwood tree that later surrounds her. Snakes are coiling around her hand and she seems to sing to the snakes. 

 

Ragini Asavari

 

Raga Megha

Raga Megha in Hindustani classical music is a major Raga that is played to welcome the monsoon season. The literal meaning of Megha in Sanskrit is ‘cloud’ which also is portrayed beautifully in miniature paintings. Raga Megha is represented by a beautiful blue-complexioned man who is shown with his lover on the terrace. She points to the black clouds bringing rain while looking towards Raga. He is further described in the inscriptions as a man who wears yellow clothes and has a face as beautiful as a moon. Raga Megha is associated with five Raginis: Ragini Malari, Deshakri, Bhopali, Gujari and Tanka. 

 

Raga Megha

 

Ragini Malari

Ragini Malari is represented by a woman who is young and beautiful and sings in happiness with vina in her hand. She remembers her lover in her koyal-like voice as clouds get swirl in the sky and peacocks accompany her in the singing. 

 

Ragini Malari

 

Ragini Deshkari

Ragini Deshkari is portrayed by a woman who is shown with her husband. She engages with her lover in an intimate manner and indulges in plays with him. She has full breasts and lotus-shaped eyes. She is beautifully lying on the lotus bed with her lover. Looking into each other’s eyes with intense love, the nature around them also seems to bloom into love. 

 

Ragini Deshkari

 

Ragini Bhopali

Ragini Bhpali is a woman struck with grief for her lover. She wears saffron paste on her body, she is very calm on the outside but the thoughts of her lover always swirl inside her mind as reflected by the swirling clouds in the orange-coloured sky. She is shown immersed deep in the thoughts of her last meeting with her lover. 

 

Ragini Bhopali

 

Ragini Gurjari

Gujari Ragini is represented by a beautiful blue-complexioned woman. She sits with a veena in her hand and she is described as a nayika who has in-depth knowledge of music. She sits on the lotus-flowered bed while she plays music on her instrument amongst the sandalwood trees. 

 

Ragini Gujari

 

  • Google Arts & Culture. “Shri Raga, From a Ragamala - Google Arts & Culture,” n.d.
  • Harvard. “Asavari Ragini, Illustration From a Ragamala (Garland of Melodies) Series | Harvard Art Museums.” Harvard Art Museums, May 27, 2024.

 

 

References

1 comment

  • soundos: June 10, 2024
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    thanks for all post

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