Kakubha Ragini, folio from a Ragamala

Historical period(s)
ca. 1630
School
probably Marwar school
Medium
Opaque watercolor on paper
Dimensions
H x W (painting): 19.4 × 13 cm (7 5/8 × 5 1/8 in) H x W (overall): 23.5 × 17.2 cm (9 1/4 × 6 3/4 in)
Geography
India, Rajasthan state, probably Marwar
Credit Line
Purchase and partial gift from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection — funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries
Collection
Ralph and Catherine Benkaim collection
Accession Number
S2018.1.51
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Painting

Keywords
flower, India, peacock, ragamala, Ralph and Catherine Benkaim collection, woman
Provenance

To 1967
Sundaram, New Delhi [1]

From 1967 to 2001
Ralph Benkaim (1914-2001), purchased from Sundaram, New Delhi in December in 1967 [2]

From 2001 to 2018
Catherine Glynn Benkaim, Beverly Hills, California, by inheritance from Ralph Benkaim in 2001

From 2018
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, partial gift and purchase from Catherine Glynn Benkaim

Notes:

[1] Ralph Benkaim purchased the painting from Sundaram, New Delhi in December 1967, several years before Indian paintings were categorized as antiquities by the Indian government, according to his personal records, as relayed by Catherine Glynn Benkaim.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Catherine Glynn Benkaim
Ralph and Catherine Benkaim
Sundaram New Dehli, India, active 1960's

Inscription(s)

Verso: Kakubh Ragini (devanagari)
In a later hand in blue ink, Rs. 5000 (8000 crossed out)

Label

Kakubha Ragini, a wife of Megha Raga, has the mood of a heroine deserted by her lover. Holding two lotus flower garlands, Kakubha wanders sadly in a grove with two peacocks, whose plaintive cries would have been understood as echoing her feelings of dejection.

Raga (Sanskrit, color or passion) is the term for a classical music mode, a set framework for improvisation. Having originated in the first millennium, ragas were systematized and classified during the thirteenth through sixteenth century, they were classified into ragamalas, meaning garlands of musical modes. A common system recognized six raga husbands, each "married" to five ragini wives for a total of thirty-six "families." Families of musical modes sometimes included sons or ragaputras as well. By the fifteenth century, ragas had become associated with specific moods, times, seasons, affective properties, deities, lovers, and heroes. Around 1590-1620, illustrated ragamala series became a favorite subject for Rajput patrons, as well as for some Mughals, such as Abd-ur Rahim, patron of the Freer Ramayana and the Laud Ragamala. Specific iconographies were developed for depicting each mode. These formulae lent themselves to variations, which were sometimes dependent on region.

Illustrated ragas evoke mood and engender feeling, as do musical compositions. But the connection seems to be indirect. Although some connoisseurs of music may have internally "heard" a composition when viewing its image, ragamalas were probably more broadly valued for their poetic and pictorial pleasures. The commission of a ragamala series would also have been understood as a sign of a patron's cultivated sensibility.

Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum