Ragamala or the 'Garland of Ragas' is the visual depiction of musical modes. Each Raga belongs to a family : Bhairav, dedicated to Shiva ; Malkos, Hindol, Megh, Deepak and Sri. Ragamala paintings are bringing together poetry and classical music. Each raga's essence is captured and symbolised by a hero or heroine, a colour or a scene, and thus a mood, and has subsets, identified as family members such as the raginis, or wives of the ragas. They thus identify at what time of the year or of the day the musical mode must be played and the deity they are dedicated to.
This and the following painting (lots 62) are part of a Ragamala series that was once attributed to the Pahari court of Bilaspur. However, Catherine Glynn in a new study of other illustrations from this same series has re-attributed them to the court of Chamba (Glynn, C., Skelton R. and Dallapicolla AL., Ragamala, Paintings from India from the Claudio Moscatelli Collection, cat. 14 and 15, Dulwich Pictures Gallery Catalogue, London 2011 p.34). Both paintings bear a stamp on the verso from the Royal Mandi Collection. This Ragamala series was apparently rebound there in 1841. Three further folios from the same series are in the Claudio Moscatelli Collection (op.cit., nos. 7, 8 and 9, pp. 52-57). Nine further paintings from the series, attributed then to Bilaspur, were sold at Sotheby's New York, 29 March 2006, lots 164-173.