Collection Highlights: Eastern Art
Lovers at Dawn (Raga Vibhasa)
Indian, gouache with silver and gold on paper, 19.7 x 15cm, northern Deccan, c.1675.
While a lady sleeps languorously in a palace bed-chamber, her lover prepares to depart at daybreak; he holds a floral bow and arrow like that of the Hindu love-god Kama. A wine flask and cups stand in a niche behind them, and a peacock promenades on the roof above. This amorous scene belongs to a series of ragamala (‘Garland of Ragas') paintings, a popular artistic and poetical genre in India from the 16th to 18th centuries. The essential character of each of the musical modes (ragas) was evocatively depicted in a range of compositions peopled with ladies, lovers, warriors, gods and ascetics, as well as birds and animals. The subtle richness of colour and the decorative detail suggest that it was painted at a court in the northern Deccan. The Museum has four more paintings from the same series. [EA1991.154]