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Indian Ragamala Painting

Updated: Mar 7

Preface

The Indian Ragamala Painting is a vibrant and intricate art form that has been part of Indian culture for centuries. It is a visual representation of the classical Indian musical system, consisting of a series of melodies or ragas, each with its unique character and mood.


The Ragamala paintings depict the different ragas and their associated emotions, seasons, and other related themes. The paintings are usually created on paper or cloth, using natural pigments and dyes. They are often ornately decorated with gold leaf and intricate patterns.



bhairavi ragini indian miniature painting artique
Bhairavi Ragini, Amber, Rajasthan, 1610-1620

The origins of the Ragamala paintings can be traced back to the 16th century, during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. They were inspired by the aesthetic traditions of the Rajput courts of Rajasthan and the Persian and Central Asian art forms that were popular at the time.


The Ragamala paintings are not only a visual delight but also a rich source of cultural and historical information. They glimpse India's music, literature, and social life during a bygone era. Today, they are highly valued by collectors and art enthusiasts all over the world and continue to inspire artists and musicians alike.


In this article, I'll explore the fascinating world of Indian Ragamala Painting, taking a closer look at its history, themes, and techniques. I hope this will provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of this beautiful and unique art form.

1. History of Ragamala Painting

2. Themes depicted in Ragamala Painting

3. Techniques used in creating Ragamala Painting.


History of Ragamala Painting:

The origins of the Indian Ragamala paintings can be traced back to the 16th century during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. These paintings were inspired by the aesthetic traditions of the Rajput courts of Rajasthan, as well as Persian and Central Asian art forms that were popular at that time.


Themes depicted in Ragamala Painting:

Ragamala paintings typically depict different ragas along with their associated emotions, seasons, and other related themes. These paintings are a visual representation of the classical Indian music system consisting of a series of melodies or ragas, each with its own unique character and mood.


Techniques used in creating Ragamala Painting:

The paintings are usually created on paper or cloth using natural pigments and dyes. They are often ornately decorated with gold leaf and intricate patterns, making them a vibrant and intricate art form. The techniques used in creating these paintings have been passed down from generation to generation, ensuring that this beautiful and unique art form continues to inspire artists and musicians alike today.


In the next chapter, I'll discuss each of the essential Raga Mala paintings primarily composed for the six seasons of Indian climates. Numerous paintings of the Raga Mala series followed several sub-rhythms considered wives of the leading musical tune. Those six primary musical tunes have six sub-tunes (wife), and in total, 36 sub-tunes. Each sub-tune has several rhythms, considered son or daughter. By following the way, we can find numerous musical forms beyond my ability to describe here. However, I shall try my best to discuss this in detail.

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