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Sri Raga for fall winter

Updated: Mar 7

Drawing inspiration from the intricate miniature painting techniques of the 16th century, I have opted to delve into a comprehensive analysis of my artworks. Specifically, my musical series was significantly influenced by the Ragamala miniature paintings, and an in-depth discussion will catalyze a deeper appreciation of my creations. Furthermore, I am delighted to share fascinating historical anecdotes that underpin these exquisite Ragamala paintings.

The symbolic model Sri Raga was created based on a musical rhythm composed for the fall-winter season. This melody consistently conveys the incredible emotional impact of autumn and winter, along with a festive touch. Although I am uncertain who initially composed this musical arrangement, there is a mythological tale that suggests Lord Shiva was its creator. According to legend, when a devotee (Narada)*1 inquired about the source and power of musical sounds, Lord Shiva revealed their origin upon request. Suddenly, nature became spellbound by these enchanting supernatural weaves of music, causing it to pause its normal activities while the universe was fully immersed in these sounds.

This rhythm is believed to be applicable for the period between 3 pm and 6 pm.

In India, this rhythmic celebration embodies the enchanting tale of a village's harvest season. It is a time when farmers gather their bountiful crops from the fields and securely store them in preparation for the year ahead. This joyous occasion holds special significance for those who make their living tending to the land. They carefully preserve their harvests for household consumption while selling any excess at local markets. The farming community regards this as a sacred moment when they welcome the goddess of crops into their homes, seeking her blessing for an abundant year ahead. With great skill and dedication, they prepare elaborate receptions honoring Goddess Lakshmi, showcasing exceptional artistic creations that testify to their talent and passion. One such example is presented below -

Indian folk ornamental design
A beautiful ornamental decoration created by a villager for celebrating the harvest festival

The musical cadence embodies the narrative of the villagers' fairy tale. It is apparent that the author drew inspiration from the life of an ancient Indian village in the 3rd century BC when he sought to depict this rhythm metaphorically. I chanced upon various metaphorical depictions of this Raga and have incorporated an illustrative model based on "Kangra Kalam," a distinguished style among artists hailing from the Himalayan valley known as Kangra. In my previous write-up, I mentioned that miniature artists often rely on their imaginative prowess rather than materiality, thereby frequently deviating from originality (by which I mean the author's initial conception). However, concerning my painting, I also endeavored to preserve its traditional representation.

According to the description I found in that ancient scripture, In a floral garden, Sree-Raga awaited his first wife, Malasree, who typically frequented the location in the afternoon. Triveni, Gouri, Vhupali, Barati, and Kalyani were his other wives, sub-rhythms that emanated from the basic rhythm of Sree-Raga. Sree-Raga playfully joked with her, and she enjoyed it immensely. The act of plucking flowers was merely pretense, for he was pretty romantic and adorned himself with flower chains. Malasree possessed a golden yellow hue reminiscent of newly harvested grains from fields. The musical tune produced an air of festivity while also serving as a reminder of fall-winter celebrations.

sri raga indian miniature painting of ragamala
Sri Raga. Usually perform in early evening or after sunset.

Emperor Akbar commissioned miniature artists from Rajasthan to create a painting series during the Mughal era. Sadly, only a few of these works remain today. They are housed at the Indian National Art Gallery in Delhi due to a devastating fire that destroyed most of them during an exhibition in London during British rule. In 1958, the Ministry of Education acquired eighty paintings from this musical series for display at the National Art Gallery in Delhi. Although none of these pieces bear signatures or dates, experts and historians have been able to identify them based on their techniques and color palettes indicative of that period.

I'll keep up the details about the Basant Raag in my next episode, which will explain the second painting of the Raga-Mala collection. You'll be happy to discover some significant matters associated with the second painting.



*1. Narada (Sanskrit: नारद, IAST: Nārada), or Narada Muni, is a sage divinity, famous in Hindu traditions as a traveling musician and storyteller who carries news and enlightening wisdom. He is one of the mind-created children of Brahma, the creator god.

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