Talbot Rice Gallery


5 August - 22 October 2011

Image of a Ragamala painting

The word ‘raga’ derives from the Sanskrit root - ranj - which means to tinge, to colour, love, passion and beauty, particularly of a voice or song. A ragamala, ‘garland of ragas’ is a set of paintings depicting various musical modes, ragas, of Indian music.

Selected from the University of Edinburgh’s collection, this exhibition presented a series of unique Indian Miniature paintings and was the first exhibition in Britain in 40 years to reflect this subject matter. Ragamala reflected a delicate genre that intimately draws together poetry, painting and music.

One set of these paintings originate from Jaipur and were gifted to the university by Dwarkanath Tagore (1794-1846), grandfather of poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). The artist William Prinsep (1794-1874), a friend of Tangore, was important in helping these paintings to arrive safely in Edinburgh. The second set, from Hyderabad, were acquired by John Ballie (1772-1833) during trips to India.

The meaning and significance of these colourful and emotional narrative scenes was enhanced throughout the exhibition by information provided by the eminent scholar Anna Dallapiccola.

Consuming Passions / Anna Dallapiccola / Tuesday 16 August

Anna Dallapiccola, Honorary Professor of Indian Art, University Edinburgh, spoke on the 'music-inspired' Ragamala paintings on display in the Georgian Gallery. This event gave an insight into these highly symbolic visual interpretations of Indian music that depict romantic and devotional situations.