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The month of Ashadha (June-July), from the series Baramasa series (Songs of the twelve months)

circa 1675


Unknown Artist


'Furiously blow the whirlwinds.
Only the demented leave their homes
and loved ones to go out.
Even the wandering ascetic stays put, birds
are afraid to stir out of their nests, let alone
the human being.
Vishnu rests at this time in the
ocean of cream with Lakshmi.
Says the poet Kesavadasa
neither the Vedas nor tradition
approves leaving home
in the month of Ashadha.'

'Baramasa' or 'Songs of the twelve months' is a poetic genre that describes each of the months of the Indian calendar in terms of love and its rhetoric. Composed in Hindi and other regional languages, these lyric are sung, mostly by women. This verse, from the well known 'Rasikapriya' of Keshavadasa composed in the 1690s, is translated [above].

The iconography of this beautiful Bundi picture is even more complex than the verse. The burden of the poem is expressed largely on the lower panel with the ominous sky at the top. Along the 'ocean of cream' with lotuses and aquatic birds, a temple of Krishna and Radha is on the top left. Then below a banana tree is the sleeping Vishnu beside whom is a prince with bow and arrow whose size completely disproportionate to everything around. Does he represent a demented human or is he returning home? Next in a small hut an ascetic sits on a tiger skin in yogic posture and converses with another.

In the middle ground is a palace scene that is not described in the text. A princely Krishna is being escorted by a maid to the prepared bed with bolsters, flowers and bottles below a canopy. Another maid waits on the other side as Radha appears through a door on the far right for the tryst. It is possible that this composition represents an anticipatory love scene enacted in the mind of the prince returning home at the start of the rainy season when lovers are united.

Pratapaditya Pal, 'Dancing to the flute: music and dance in Indian art', AGNSW, 1997. pg. 88.


Other Title

Illustration to a Baramasa (twelve seasons)

Place where the work was made

Bundi Rajasthan India


circa 1675

Materials used

opaque watercolour with gold on paper


25.7 x 18.0 cm image; 30.3 x 22.3 cm sheet

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Margaret Hannah Olley Art Trust 1991


Not on display

Accession number


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Mughals and Maharajas: The Miniature Paintings of Courtly India', Sydney, 2003, 41 (colour illus.).

Pratapaditya Pal, Dancing to the flute: music and dance in Indian art, Sydney, 1997, 88, 89 (colour illus.). 38 See 'Further Information' for text.

Haema Sivanesan, Indian painting, 'Indian Painting', verso of poster., Sydney, 2001. 2.3

Sotheby's London, Islamic and Indian Art. Oriental manuscripts and miniatures., London, Oct 1991, 228 (colour illus.). 806