Rendered in tempera on paper , Raga Malhar is a beautiful example of a typical Ragamala painting, executed in sets to lend a visual narrative form that yields the essence of individual ragas and raginis, musical compositions. Themes from literature echoed in music and painting, developing a harmonious link between the different forms of creative expression. Ragamala suites are often identified with the love between Radha and Lord Krishna. Malhar, often evoked through the image of lovelorn woman yearning for the return of her beloved in the midst of thunder and rain, finds form here. In a painting highlighting a typical abhisara (a lovers appointment) scene, the nayika, heroin, is quite adventurous. With a female companion, she steps out into the stormy night to meet her lover. Flashes of lightening punctuate the dark blue of the night; rain descends in a steady down pour depicted here as strings of pearls. Below her, a flock of waterfowl crane their necks to watch her boldness. This beautifully composed painting – with its horizontal divisions of sky and ground, contrasted by the vertical streaks of lightning, the standing figures, the trees and vegetation and the birds with their necks stretched upward – evokes intense romanticism.


  • Title: Raga Malhar
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 19th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w174 x h275 cm (Without frame)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: National Gallery of Modern Art, National Gallery of Modern Art

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