Asian Art

Ragini Bilaval, from a Garland of Musical Modes (Ragamala)

ca. 1750–80

Opaque watercolor on paper

9 5/8 × 6 in. (24.5 × 15.3 cm)
framed: 15 7/8 × 11 5/8 in. (40.3 × 29.5 cm)
The Vera M. and John D. MacDonald, B.A. 1927, Collection, Gift of Mrs. John D. MacDonald
In this painting, Ragini Bilaval is portrayed as an elite woman wearing fine clothing and jewelry. She examines her reflection in a mirror as she stretches her arms in a sensual pose, anticipating the arrival of her lover, while the pairs of swans and peacocks in the foreground also allude to this impending union. This musical mode is performed in the morning during the spring season and is meant to evoke leisure and tranquility. While the inscription on the border of the painting names the ragini in the image as Ramkali, comparisons with other Ragamala paintings identify her as Ragini Bilaval. The discrepancy suggests that the scribe may have had limited knowledge of the subject matter and added the inscription later.
Indian, probably Jaipur
Mughal dynasty (1526–1857)

Vera M. MacDonald and John D. MacDonald, Boston, Mass., by 2001; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2001


Maggs Bros., “Bulletin,” Maggs Bros. no. 9 (February 1965).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.