Music of Courtly India
A British Museum Partnership Spotlight Loan

Tour schedule

Derby Museum and Art Gallery  
6 May – 25 June 2017

Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery 
30 June – 28 August 2017

Recommend this exhibition

Ragamala paintings are visual interpretations of poems which evoke the moods of classical Indian raga music, interweaving three art forms which were frequently patronised at court: music, poetry and painting.

Music of Courtly India features a stunning album of ragamala paintings (c.1610), and a rare ivory sarinda (c.1700), a four-stringed instrument covered in intricate carvings of angelic winged figures, flora, and beasts in combat. These were both made in India for courtly patrons, and are accompanied by a further five ragamala paintings from the British Museum collection which feature forest-dwelling snake charmers, yogis, musicians and women of the court. This pictorial genre was popular amongst Rajput and Mughal patrons in northern India, and Sultanate patrons in the Deccan (central-southern India).

This Spotlight loan is part of the British Museum South Asia Season 2017. The tour will also mark the 25th anniversary and temporary closure of the British Museum’s Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery for China and South Asia, where the ragamala album and sarinda will return to be displayed later this year.


Ivory stringed musical instrument (sarinda), around 1700, Golconda, 2005,0820.1

Ragamala album, 'Asavari Ragini' man with snakes sitting amongst rocks, around 1610, Bikaner (Rajasthan), 1973,0917,0.8