We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


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

circa 1675


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Other Title
    Illustration to a Baramasa (twelve seasons)
    Place where the work was made
    Bundi Rajasthan India
    Rajput circa 1500 - 1947 → India
    circa 1675
    Media categories
    Miniature , Painting , Watercolour
    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
    Naala Nura, lower level 1, Asian Lantern galleries
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    '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.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 7 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 4 publications

  • Provenance

    Sotheby's London, Oct 1991, London/England, purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales at Sotheby's (London), 'Islamic and Indian Art Sale', 10th and 11th October, 1991, lot 806.