Bhairava Raga
Page from a dispersed ragamala series (Garland of Ragas)

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Kota, Rajasthan, India, Asia
or Bundi, Rajasthan, India, Asia

c. 1700-1750

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Image: 8 3/8 × 4 9/16 inches (21.3 × 11.6 cm) Sheet: 9 5/8 × 5 3/4 inches (24.4 × 14.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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The very first raga in the standard ragamala set is presided over by Bhairava, a terrifying aspect of the god Shiva. The wrathful Bhairava usually wears an apron of human bones and carries a skull, double drum, noose, and trident in his many hands. In the ragamala tradition, however, he assumes a more benign form. He is shown here with only two arms. He rests on a lotus throne, his wife Parvati seated beside him. Rather than his typical implements, he holds only a stringed instrument known as a vina. This tamer version of Bhairava may have better suited the aesthetic sensibilities of the royal connoisseurs for whom these ragamala series were made.