Illustration to a Ragamala series: Todi Ragini, Mughal, 18th c., opaque watercolor heightened with gold on paper, Image: 5 ⅛ x 3 in. (13 x 7.6 cm), Folio: 6 ¼ x 4 ⅛ in. (15.9 x 10.5 cm)
Kapoor Galleries join in celebrating the United Kingdom’s South Asian Heritage Month with a series of works that tap into the collective histories and cultures of the region. Spotlighting Mughal miniatures and Company Paintings from the Indian subcontinent, these brightly colored and extensively detailed paintings assist in showing prominent Persian and European influences. The contextual oeuvre of these paintings covers a diverse range of themes from court scenes, portraits, architectural drawings, Ragamala paintings to illustrations of flora and fauna; all creating a theatrical spectacle for the viewer and, thereby, drawing our attention to the storytelling aspect embedded in them.
In this striking watercolor, a lone nayika wanders an open glade and stands beneath the pink blossoms of a small sapling. The vast empty landscape emphasizes the woman’s loneliness, the only audience for her longing tune being a blackbuck deer—horns delicately embellished with gold and a jeweled necklace around its outstretched neck—who serves as a stand-in for her absent lover. A cool white sun peeks through the morning haze, bringing a tinge of gold into the slowly brightening sky—the flat layers of metallic and cool colors evoking the feeling of a spring morning. The iconography is immediately recognizable as that of Todi Ragini, which recalls the wistful mood of love in separation.
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