Bhairavi Ragini from the Manley Ragamala, an album painting in gouache on paper


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

Painting, music and poetry came together in the courts of northern India from the sixteenth century in the production of paintings known as ragamala ('garland of ragas'). A raga is a musical phrase that evokes an emotional response in the listener, and is associated with a particular time of day, season and mood. 'Male' ragas were joined with 'female' raginis.This painting is of the Bhairavi ragini, a lady worshipping a linga in a shrine by a lake. The lake is often described in texts as being near Mt. Kailash, Shiva's holy mountain. While one woman garlands the black linga with flowers, the other chants and beats the rhythm with a pair of cymbals. Various ritual vessels are placed around the linga. The pool in which the shrine is set is filled with lotuses on which butterflies and wild-birds rest.This painting is one of thirty-four in a ragamala album named after its last owner, Dr W.B. Manley. The earliest European owner was William Watson, who acquired the paintings in 1774 in or near Delhi. The previous owners included the original patron who commissioned the Sanskrit captions to the pictures, as well as at least one later patron who could read the Urdu numbering of the pages.


  • Title: Bhairavi Ragini from the Manley Ragamala, an album painting in gouache on paper
  • Date Created: 1610/1620
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 20.40cm (the painted area); Width: 14.70cm (the painted area)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: music; ragamala; attendant; prayer
  • Registration number: 1973,0917,0.3
  • Production place: Painted in Amber. Painted in Rajasthan
  • Place: Found/Acquired Delhi
  • Material: paper
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased through Goddard, J E. Previous owner/ex-collection Manley, W B. Previous owner/ex-collection Watson, Mary. Collected by Watson, William

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