Title:Man Massaging WomanArtist:Artist UnknownDate:c. 1675Creation Place:Asia, IndiaCredit Line:The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip FundAccession Number:79.18.2
These two leaves are classic seventeenth-century Malwa school paintings, one of the earliest and historically most important Rajput schools. At Mandu, the capital of Malwa, miniature painting can be traced back to the fifteenth century, when it developed as a variant of the Jain style of western India. By the seventeenth century, however, this purely Malwa style had evolved. Simple geometric compositions predominate, and colors are bold and highly symbolic, while naturalism and volume are negated. Human figures are typically shown against red or green backgrounds, which dramatically flatten the pictorial surface, thereby lessening the sense of space.
Ragamala paintings illustrate modes of classical Indian music, usually personifying characteristics of love or heroic behavior. These miniatures might illustrate the Ramkali Ragini ragamala but could also be based on a classic of erotic literature such as the Kamasutra.