- Museum number
- Object: Raga Bhairava
Painting from an album bound in red silk designed fabric containing a complete set of Jaipur 19th century Ragamala paintings.
Raga Bhairava is usually the first in a ragamala series; it is a melody sung in the morning. The green and gold haloed deity, Śiva as Bhairava (one of his many manifestations) sits on a carpeted platform on a terrace. A black snake winds its way around his neck and a white snake sits on top of his head. He is bare chested and clothed in a pale lilac dhoti and shawl. Śiva's iconographical details, the sacred river Ganges flowing from his locks and the third eye on his brow are finely delineated. A garland of skulls around his chest completes the iconography of Bhairava, a fearful aspect of the enigmatic God. The bluish/white coloured jeweled deity glances at his consort, Bhairavi who holds a vessel containing sandalpaste with which she is smearing the body of her Lord. Sandalpaste is usually reserved for Kṛṣṇa in his role as Universal Lover of the gopis, while Śiva's body is usually covered with vibhuti or ashes. Kṛṣṇas attributes and ways of worshipping him are scattered in many paintings in this series -- perhaps identifying the patron as a Vaisnavite.
Five lady musicians seated to the extreme left of the painting amuse the holy couple, a lady attendant with flywhisk stands behind Bhairava, her upraised arm in a position of fanning her Lord. Another lady attendant in the right foreground grinds sandalpaste on an oblong stone. The ladies are sumptuously garbed in gold and brightly coloured skirts, brief blouses and transparent odhnis (veils) in hues ranging from bright orange and dark brown to black. Costumes are finely detailed with an abundance of gold dots and flecked patterns while veils are outlined in thick bands of gold paint.
The ornate pavilion in the background painted in rich hues of royal blue, orange, burgundy and white is patterned in an exceedingly decorative flowered gold design with the lavish use of gold paint, as is the orange and gold patterned carpet covering the terrace. A bright blue sky with thick billowing clouds is painted in the left background of the canvas: orange streaks of sunlight below indicating the rising sun and imminent daybreak. Neatly ordered rows of bushy flowering plants deeply shaded with minute flowers in lilac, red and white border the terrace above and below.
- Production date
Height: 32 centimetres (page)
Height: 25.50 centimetres (painting including all margins)
Width: 20.70 centimetres
Width: 24 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- The series is a complete one of thirty six based on the 'standardized painters system' existing in Jaipur during the 19th century. Black ink floral sprays on first and last pages.
Jaipur 19th century Ragamala paintings characteristically depict text in enclosed decorative panels or cartouches on top of each painting. (Ebeling, K., 'Ragamala Painting', 1973. Pg.228, illustration 148.)
The music that Ragamala paintings interpreted contributes to the rasa or emotional content or mood of the painting; in this case the rasa is spiritual.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number