Kamod Ragini

Artist: Attributed to the Sirohi Master (active ca. 1670-1690)
Historical period(s)
ca. 1670-1690
Sirohi school
Opaque watercolor on paper
H x W (overall): 23.5 × 17.8 cm (9 1/4 × 7 in)
India, Rajasthan state, Sirohi
Credit Line
Purchase and partial gift from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection — funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


India, peacock, ragamala, Ralph and Catherine Benkaim collection, twilight, woman

To 1967
Kumar Sangram Singh, Thakur of Nawalgarh [1]

From 1967 to 2001
Ralph Benkaim (1914-2001), purchased from Kumar Sangram Singh in December 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

[1] It is well known in the field of Indian art history that Kumar Sangram Singh, Thakur of Nawalgarh, had the entire manuscript in the 1960s; prominent art historians viewed it in his Jaipur residence.

[2] According Catherine Glynn Benkaim, it was purchased December 1967 from Kumar Sangram Singh, Jaipur, who had the whole manuscript.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Kumar Sangram Singh (Thakur of Nawalgarh)
Ralph (1914-2001) and Catherine Benkaim
Catherine Glynn Benkaim


Recto: in devanagari script: kamod ragini 28
Verso: bottom left corner (devanagari) 31; (western numerals) 128


The character of court painting in Rajasthan owes as much to local, non-imperial styles as it does to the Mughal court. This is brilliantly demonstrated in the Sirohi ragamalas that were produced around 1690 in southwest Rajasthan for non-court patrons. This exuberant and luminous Kamod Ragini is from the first and finest of the sets.

In a hilly landscape, two women bring offerings to a shrine, one of whom pauses to feed two peacocks. An orange-tinged sky suggests early evening, the time of day in which Kamod is traditionally performed. The composition and palette are precisely calculated: The playful rectangles evoking architectural forms in the lower registers, the red window set squarely into the middle of a yellow hillside, and the peacock tail, banana leaf and temple spire that jut beyond the borders are signs of a master of abstraction.

The style is rooted in pre-Mughal tradition, particularly its bold use of red, strong color contrasts, the modulating contour line that conveys the weight of bodies, and the squarish heads of the women.

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
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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