Page from a dispersed ragamala series
Artist/maker unknown, India
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Todi ragini evokes both loving tenderness and sadness, usually represented by a young woman leaning against a tree and daydreaming about her absent love. She is accompanied by a female musician and by two deer that emphasize the forest setting and her loneliness. A bear appreciates the scene from the treetops. This lush masterpiece is an innovative mixture of stylistic elements. The fleshy pink rocks and occasional pastel colors recall Persian prototypes, while the rich vegetation and shaded bricks of the wall reflect the developing styles of the Rajput courts to the west of Malwa, in the present-day state of Rajasthan. The division of the composition, the border format, the black sky, and the forms of the trees and figures, however, show the artist's allegiance to Malwa painting traditions.
What is a ragini? Classical Indian music is based on ragas--a selection of notes and patterns, improvised into a melody by the musician, that evoke particular emotions, times of day, and seasons of the year. Each raga has a number of subsidiaries named as family members, especially raginis (wives of the raga). Poets and painters interpreted the essence of each raga and ragini into words and images. These series of illustrated verses are called ragamalas (garlands of ragas) and are among the most popular subjects in Rajput painting.