Attributed to the Sirohi Master
India, Rajasthan, Sirohi, ca. 1680-1690
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Courtesy the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.: Purchase and partial gift from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection — funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, S2018.1.55
It would be very easy to believe that the artist misunderstood the iconography of this painting labelled as a “Kamod” since it shows imagery more typical of Gauri Ragini. However, the unfinished Gunakali Ragini in the exhibition suggests that both the title and iconography of paintings were established in the initial drawing. This indicates that our understanding of regional ragamala variations is incomplete.
The architectural pavilion in the Kamod Ragini is a chhatri. The two Sirohi paintings, Kamod Ragini and Sarang Raga, show variations of the chhatri as an architectural form. Originating in Rajasthan as funerary memorials to royalty, they evolved into purely decorative pavilions used as architectural embellishments on forts and palaces.
In the Sirohi painting tradition, Kamod Ragini is invariably shown as a woman feeding peacocks. The fact that the Sirohi artists were fully aware of the differences between the iconographies of Kamod Ragini and Gauri Ragini is demonstrated by a Sirohi painting labelled Gauri. Now in the Williams College Museum of Art that bears the typical Gauri Ragini iconography. Both paintings, and the Sarang Raga in this exhibit have been attributed to the artist known only as the Sirohi Master.
A similar Kamod Raginis from Sirohi by a less experienced artist with a more naive style, demonstrates the consistency of regional iconography. It also depicts ladies feeding peacocks. (https://digital.library.cornell.edu/catalog/ss:3698470)
The Williams College Museum of Art’s painting labelled Gauri Ragini is almost certainly by the Sirohi Master. This shows that he was aware of the standard iconography for Gauri Ragini and did not confuse its iconography for the Kamod Ragini. The similarity of the artistic style means that it probably belongs to the same ragamala set as the Kamod Ragini in the National Museum of Asian Art collection. (http://egallery.williams.edu/search/gauri).
If you want to develop your own skill at recognizing stylistic details try the on-line Raga Comparison Game. To play Raga Comparison click HERE.
The program compares the Smithsonian’s American Museum of Asian Art’s Kamod Ragini with the Williams College Museum of Art’s Gauri Ragini to demonstrate that both paintings are by the same artist, namely the ‘Sirohi Master’. (https://asia.si.edu/object/F1992.18/)