A Woman with an Ascetic (Kedara Raga)
Page from a dispersed ragamala (garland of musical modes)
Artist/maker unknown, Indian
The ragamala (garland of musical modes) is one of the most popular subjects of Indian painting. Ragas are selections of musical notes and patterns that invoke particular emotions, times of day, and seasons of the year. Ragamala verses and illustrations are the poetic and visual personifications of ragas. The system, however, is very complex and the meaning of particular images is not always clear. This scene is labeled on the painting as Kedara Raga, a melody to be sung on wintry nights. Images of Kedara Raga usually depict an ascetic and a musical instrument. Here a young ascetic is seated on the right, his renunciation of the physical world shown only by his matted hair and scanty clothing. The motif of the instrument, however, is absent. This particularly elaborate ragamala series shows the vibrant palette and strong contrasts of hue and tone favored by painters from the small state of Sirohi in southern Rajasthan.