Ragini Bhairavi, from a Garland of Musical Modes (Ragamala) manuscript

Melodic musical themes known as modes (“raga”) were important subjects in sets of miniatures produced for the regional courts of India in the 17th-19th centuries. The name of one “raga” is Bhairava- a god who is also the lord of music. Bhairavi (spouse of Bhairava) gives her name to a “raga”-variation (“ragini”). In art, she personifies the “ragini.” She appears here worshiping at a shrine holding a “linga,” the emblem of the great god Shiva. The inscription at top says, “The fair and pure Bhairavi worships Shiva with songs accompanied by cymbals in a crystal shrine beside a lake.” A sculpture of Shiva’s bull, his means of transportation, sits outside the shrine.

Pigments on paper


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Walters Art Museum

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