www.IndianMiniaturePaintings.co.uk - Indian miniature painting: Folio from a Ragamala series: Dipak Raga. Jaipur, circa 1820. Opaque watercolour with gold on wasli. 16.8 x 13cm

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Folio from a ragamala series: Dipak Raga. Jaipur, circa 1820. Opaque watercolour with gold on wasli. 16.8 x 13cm

On the back of the painting is a hand-written English description which - unusually for this type of Jaipuri series - is mostly accurate in its information about this ragamala's iconography (see image below). Its reference to Akbar's palace fire is explained by Klaus Ebeling ('Ragamala Painting', 1973, p.72): Tansen, the lauded musician of the emperor's court, was believed to have caused a fire when ordered against his better judgement to sing Dipak Raga. Dipak means 'flame' and in Rajasthani paintings of this raga it is usual to see at a royal palace bed chamber or terrace a pair of lovers surrounded by lamps with flames burning. So it is that here we see twin flames in the lampstands at front and behind the bed in the row of small deepas (lamps) along the top of the balustrade.

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Above: gilt detail reflecting light

Images and text © Peter Blohm