Central Indian / Madhu Madhavi Ragini / c. 1660-1680Central Indian
Madhu Madhavi Ragini
c. 1660-1680

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: Central Indian
Creator Active Place: Central Indian
Creator Name-CRT: Central Indian
Title: Madhu Madhavi Ragini
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1660
Creation End Date: 1680
Creation Date: c. 1660-1680
Creation Place: India, Madhya Pradesh, Malwa region
Object Type: Drawings and Watercolors
Materials and Techniques: Opaque watercolor and ink on paper
Parts and Pieces: folio from a Ragamala series
Dimensions: 9 x 6 5/8 in. (22.9 x 16.8 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.057
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Context: Illustrations in books and small-scale paintings grouped in albums or sets are among the most important art forms produced in India from the 16th through 19th centuries. During this period, much of northern India was ruled by the Mughals, a dynasty of Central Asian origins that had entered northern India from Afghanistan in 1526. However, different regions of the northwestern part of the subcontinent, such as Malwa, were under the control of native Rajput kings. This painting, produced in the Malwa region, illustrates some of the differences between Mughal and Rajput pictorial styles. Dated to 1660-80, this painting is an illustration of the musical mode Madhu Madhavi Ragini from a Ragamala series. The composition and the use of space and color reflect the conceptual differences between the Rajput and Mughal world views and pictorial styles. Mughal paintings are usually particularized, stressing a specific individual or event. Although Rajput paintings dealing with courtly themes and subjects can also be historically specific, many Rajput pictures, especially those dealing with literary or religious themes, do not adhere to empirical reality. Mughal paintings show an interest in spatial depth, which helps to place a scene in a setting, while Rajput narrative paintings often place figures and architecture within a flat picture plane. The colors used in Rajput paintings are brighter and bolder than those used in contemporaneous Mughal works, and the gestures and postures used in Rajput paintings are more stylized than those found in the art of the Mughal court.

Within the Rajput tradition, Malwa painting is noted for its conservatism; compared with most other schools of painting in Rajasthan, it betrays little awareness of or influence fromthe predominant Mughal style and insistently harks back to pre-Mughal conventions. This can be seen here in the conventionalized figures and architecture.

The blues, reds, and yellows; the relatively simple backgrounds; and the figures' sweet facesand delicate gestures are characteristics shared by Malwa paintings of the later 17th century. The simplification and elongation of the figures are typical of works painted in the third quarter of the century.

Love is the theme of this charming illustration of a woman rushing through the rain to meet her lover. Ragamala paintings, or illustrations to a 'Garlands of Ragas,' represent a uniquely Indian amalgamation of music, poetry, and painting. Often translated as 'modes' or 'melody types,' ragas are tonal frames that provide a set structure (scales, center tone, progressions, and so forth) for a piece of music that can then be improvised on according to the style of the musician. In literature, each musical mode is personified in a male (raga) or female (ragini) form, referring to earlier classifications of lovers and heroes and heroines. Moods and seasons associated with musical modes were incorporated into literary descriptions, which in turn formed the basis for paintings. In Madhu Madhavi Ragini, the sense of joyous anticipation is heightened by the time of day--early evening--and by the rain and lightning that characterize the monsoon season. The sense of drama is intensified by the woman's startled reactiontothe bolt of lightning and the birds flying in the sky above her head. All of these characteristics are commonly associated in love literature throughout India with Abhisarika Nayika, the one who braves all obstacles to be with her lover.
Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 28.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Hong Kong and Singapore: Hong Kong Museum of Art and National Museum Singapore, 1993, pp. 78, 79.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Tokyo: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, 1992, pp. 58, 128, 129.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.057
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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