Ragamala miniature

Detail of Ragamala miniature entitled ‘Desakh ragini’
Gifted in 1842/1843
Special Collections: Or.Ms 437.1

Ragamala paintings depict, in physical form, the ‘modes’ or scales used in Indian Classical Music, known as ragas. Usually accompanied by an inscription or poem, they elucidate the season and time of day in which a raga was meant to be performed, as well as its mood, and often portray the Hindu deities with which they are individually associated. This painting depicts a lightly clad female acrobat climbing down from a pole, head first. She represents a woman who is energetic and resourceful.

This collection, which is purportedly called the Raga Kalpadruma, originates from Jaipur in Northern India. It was gifted to the University by Dwarkanath Tagore (1794-1846), the great Bengal entrepreneur. Tagore visited Scotland many times and was given the freedom of the city of Edinburgh in 1845. This gift from Tagore directly shared his culture with the University and city of Edinburgh. This connection with Edinburgh continued through his grandson, the famous writer and poet Rabindranath Tagore, who built up a close relationship with Sir Patrick Geddes. This family connection and sharing of ideas and culture continued:

I merely started with this one simple idea that education should never be dissociated from life…
– Tagore to Geddes, on plans for an International University in India.

Story by Rachel Hosker, Deputy Head of Special Collections and Archives Manager