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RAGAMALA : Garland of Musical Melodies
The six major melodies (ragas) and thirty-six minor melodies (raginis) with their beautiful bodies emanated from the abode of Brahma, the transcendental being, and sing hymns in honour of Brahma himself.
--Narada, Panchama Sara Samhita, 1440 CE
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Indian Miniatures of Musical Inspiration
Minatures of musical inspiration form one of the most captivating genres of Indian painting. Some of the masterworks of highly gifted painters are veritably portable little jewels, a connoisseur's everlasting delight. Quite like the classical tradition of Indian chamber music, an ideal spectator needs to savour leisurely, intently and rather privately the "emotional substance of the various musical modes visible to the eyes".
Needless to add, while his eyes would invariably hear, his ears in turn would ever enhance visualizing process of the inward eye. The depiction of musical melodies on the single-sheet album folios forming a complete ragamala set as also those on the extended friezes of wall painting (namely, those in the palace complexes at Datia-Orcha and Rajasthan) beautifying the palace interiors, reserved for musical performances, followed the raga-ragini iconography laid down in the elaborate musical theory and canonical literature (sastra).
It is not surprising to find in a few surviving examples of courtly embroidery the continuity of the same ragamala iconography for the simple reason that such artefacts were also master-minded invariably by the same hereditary painter-ornamentalists, proficient in imaging musical melodies. Closely related to the cardinal concept of sringara (the erotic sentiment) that originated in Sanskrit poetics and eventually popularized in late-medieval Hindi devotional poetry, the music-inspired themes were generously fed with variegated sentiments of love, in states of enraptured union or ceaseless lament. Eventually, the poetry, painting and music were brought into an altogether new relationship.
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Wondering what to explore next?
You can learn more about Ragamala paintings by exploring this exhibition through the lens of Indian Music and Indian Painting.
The Ragamala exhibition has four parts. You are currently viewing Part 1: An Introduction to Ragamala tradition. The other parts may be accessed by clicking on the links below or by selecting from the push-out menu on the right.
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Wide range of media to explore
The Ragamala digital experience has been crafted to deliver a rich experience to the users across a wide array of media ranging from images to sound:158 View Images15 Explore Audio
You are currently viewing:
Part 1: An Introduction to the Ragamala Tradition
View Part 2: Indian Music