Back of the Book
The hitherto unpublished and exclusive set of forty-four Deccani ragachitras sourced from the National Museum, Delhi are a treasure trove of aesthetic beauty. Combined with detailed prose - stating how these forgotten paintings came in the possession of the National Museum and virtually transporting the reader to the bygone era of royal splendour - they spin a tale of joyous festivity and pastoral simplicity, set amidst nature's bounty. A feast for the eyes, Ragachitra: Deccani Ragamala Paintings dwell upon the intrinsic features of medieval Indian miniature paintings depicting the Indian ragas in the beautiful Deccani and various other styles as well-Mughal, Provincial Mughal, Malwa, Bundi, Uniara, Pali, Folk Marwar, Bikaner, Shorapur, Kangra, Basohli, Chamba and Jammu and Kashmir, to name a few.
About the Book
Ragachitra: Deccani Ragamala Paintings presents exquisite miniature art from Bijapur, rendered in the Deccan style (late 18th century).
A set of forty-four unpublished ragamala paintings in possession of the National Museum, Delhi since 1989 has been displayed, retaining its original brilliance.
Miniature paintings of ragaputra and raginis in other medieval styles act as a foil, highlighting the various trends in vogue during the times a well as the special lyrical quality and originality of the Bijapur paintings. They stand apart in their vibrant visual appeal, depth and range of content and in the perfect symphony created between art and music.
A lucid narrative documents the history of Indian classical music, the range of tradition of the raga theory and their miniature visual forms created in medieval India. Accompanied by detailed descriptions of the paintings portrayed - highlighting their salient features - the text demystifies the elements of the abstract and the obscure in the rationale supporting the unique and aesthetic marriage of music and art. Finally, it is a delightful and overwhelming aesthetic and intellectual experience for the reader.
About the Author
Art historian and archaeologist, former curator and head of the department of painting in the National Museum, Delhi, Dr Daljeet is now Consultant, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Delhi, engaged in its museum project. Her books and catalogues on Mughal, Sikh and Deccani art and monuments have been widely acclaimed by scholars and art connoisseurs, notable among which are six catalogues for international exhibitions and pocket books and portfolio on Indian miniature paintings.
Dr Daljeet has curated several national and international exhibitions- the exhibition on Sikh heritage at Anandpur Sahib, commissioned by the Government of Punjab in 1999 is among them. She was invited to set up the Pratibha Art Gallery and Museum at Amravati, Maharashtra in 2012 for former president of India Smt. Pratibha Patil. Dr Daljeet was awarded the Senior Curatorial Fellowship Award in 2008 by the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC and was jointly awarded the Delhi State Award - Vishist Kriti Samman - for 2002-03 with Prof. P.C. Jain.
Ragachitra: Deccani Ragamala Paintings based on the sets of ragamala paintings (Deccan style) in the collection of the National Museum, few Delhi, not merely brings to light a rare and unpublished set of miniatures manifesting modes of Indian classical music but also lends a bird's-eye view of various traditions of the raga theory and their visualisation in the medieval miniature paintings of different schools and periods. Within the limited scope of a monograph this study seeks to give basic information on the historical perspective of various ragachitras, their rasa-bhav, aesthetic delight, their sublimation and transformation into a visual medium, the essence of which is found exclusively in Indian miniatures. Apart from this, the monograph contains information on various art styles in which ragachitras have been painted.
An important genre of Indian miniature paintings, ragachitras are not mere theoretical renderings. Each leaf is also a beautiful painting and has its own aesthetic appeal. The common man, who does not know anything of the painting's theoretical aspect, discovers his source of delight in colourful renderings of these ragachitras. It is perhaps this dual strength of the ragachitras that has forever captivated my mind and I have always longed not only for the enjoyment of their beauty but also for exploring their underlying meaning, formal distinctions and power to emotionally move the beholder. Besides this long- sustaining passion for ragachitras, it was this particular set of the Deccani ragamalas' special appeal, their far different character and great visual beauty which combined and transformed into this monograph. I hope that this will win the love and appreciation of art connoisseurs and shall be a source of information for those who are seeking to explore the various aspects of ragachitras.
The ragachitras, popularly known as ragamala paintings - depicting the garland of ragas - have been meaningfully portrayed in the medieval miniatures combining colours and music. They establish a relationship among the natural sounds of the environment, which the great masters of the past classified into seven swars, and colours. This superbly original style of portraying 'the sound' of ragas into a beautiful painting has evolved over centuries. Though each an independent leaf, the ragachitras as a principle, serialised various ragas, and of course raginis - sometimes eighty-four of them, their usual maximum number and sometimes a mere thirty-six, their minimum - into a thread, woven into an album-like format.
The introduction 'Visuals and Vibrations' covers the history of Indian music from Natya Shastra to Narada Shiksha and from Mansollasa to Sangita Ratanakar. It travels further, beginning from Amir Khusrau and extending to Tan en, stretching from Harivallabha's Sangeet Darpan to Kitab-i- Nauras, ranging between Sufi saints and Gurmat-sangeet of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
For elaborating my study or views, I have selected a set of forty-four unpublished paintings of Bijapur rendered in the Deccan style belonging to the late 18th century, which was purchased by the National Museum in 1989. To highlight the lyrical quality of these paintings I have included some ragas and raginis of other styles to act as a foil, such as the Mughal and Provincial Mughal styles, as well as the styles of Malwa, Bundi, Kotah and Uniara, Mewar, Pali, folk Marwar, Bikaner, Deccan and Shorapur, Kangra, Basohli and Kullu, Chamba, Bilaspur and Jammu and Kashmir.
Ragachitra-Visuals and Vibrations
Plates and Descriptions
Ragamala Painting Series
The National Museum Collections, New Delhi
Classification of the Set of Deccani Ragas and Raginis
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