Asavari Ragini from a Ragamala (garland of melodies)

Artist: Shaykh Husain Shaykh Ali Shaykh Hatim
Historical period(s)
Reign of Rao Raja Singh, 1591
Bundi Court
Rajput School
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
H x W: 20.5 x 11 cm (8 1/16 x 4 5/16 in)
India, Uttar Pradesh state, Chunar
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


duck, fish, goose, Hada dynasty, India, music, ragamala, snake, yogini
Provenance research underway.

This painting belongs to a ragamala (garland of ragas, or musical modes), which forms a unique genre that may be termed "pictorial music."  Musical modes are visualized as male ragas or female raginis. They correspond to varying emotional states and are associated with specific times of day or seasons of year.

Here, a dark-skinned woman sits alone on a rocky outcrop where scorpions play, beside a lotus pond teeming with fish, ducks, and geese. In testimony to her harmony with the natural world, the woman holds a snake in one hand and offers it a morsel, while several other snakes descend from the surrounding trees and move out of the foliage toward her. The inscription above the painting identifies her as Asavari ragini, a muscial mode of lonely longing that very likely originated some fifteen hundred years ago among tribal snake charmers.

Published References
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. Rajput Painting at Bundi and Kota. no. 32 Ascona, Switzerland. pp. 6-10.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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