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


Vasant ragini

circa 1770


Bundi school


circa 1680 –

  • Details

    Other Title
    Krishna Dancing with Three Female Musicians
    Place where the work was made
    Kota Rajasthan India
    Rajput circa 1500 - 1947 → India
    circa 1770
    Media categories
    Miniature , Painting , Watercolour
    Materials used
    opaque watercolour with gold on paper
    18.2 x 12.2 cm image; 31.9 x 23.8 cm sheet
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased 1997
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Bundi school

    Works in the collection


  • About

    'I know where Krisna tarries in these
    early days of Spring,
    When every wind from warm Malay
    brings fragrance on its wing ...
    He is dancing with the dancers to a
    laughter moving tone,
    In the soft awakening Spring-time, when
    'tis hard to live alone.'

    (Waldschmidt, II, 1975, p35 quoting Arnold's translation)

    Of the six Indian seasons - summer, monsoon, autumn, winter, cool season, spring - it is spring when music, dance and love predominate. The raga most closely associated with spring is that of Vasant and, since the major spring festival Holi, 'the festival of colours', is a predominantly Vaishnava festival, the raga is also dedicated to the Vaishnava god, Krishna, whose love adventures are detailed in the 'Gitagovinda'.

    In this vibrantly coloured image, rendered with a fem-cutter's precision, Krishna dances to the music of three young women, by a lotus-filled lake in a glade whose luxuriant foliage symbolises the creativity and fecundity of spring. In one hand he exultantly holds high a vase full of blossoms, while his other hand grasps a stylised vina of one gourd. Krishna wears a distinctive layered dancing skirt, each layer a different colour, tasselled shoes, a jewelled crown, and a long garland of white blossoms, while the body is covered in pearls and jewels. He is the focus of attention for the three ladies: one with an end-blown flute another beating the classical two-faced drum ('mridangam'), while the lady opposite them marks time with 'tala'.

    This exquisite painting is a folio from a very large set of ragamala pictures that includes representations not only of the six raga and their ragini, but also of numerous sons (ragaputra) and daughters (ragaputri). The series is known as the 'Boston' series since the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston owns some thirteen paintings from the series. The series now is generally credited to Kota, a small Rajput kingdom in southeastern Rajasthan which became a separate kingdom in 1625 when the Mughal emperor Jahangir divided the kingdom of Bundi in half, each half being ruled by related branches of the Hara clan.

    Jackie Menzies, 'Dancing to the flute: music and dance in Indian art', AGNSW 1997 pg. 286-288.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 4 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 15 publications

  • Provenance

    Terence McInerey, pre Apr 1997, New York/United States of America, purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, April 1997.