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A Garland of Melodies: Ragamala Paintings at The Norton Simon Museum
Bhairava Raga, c. 1625, Nepal: Bhaktapur (?) Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 7 x 5-1/2 in. (17.8 x 14 cm) Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon, M.1979.92.01.P

PASADENA.- The Norton Simon Museum presents A Garland of Melodies: Ragamala Paintings from India and Nepal. Installed in the Museum’s new rotating Asian gallery, this special exhibition features 32 artworks from the Museum’s rich collection of ragamala paintings from Nepal and India, including select folios from a stunning Nepalese ragamala album and recently donated paintings on view for the first time.

Ragamala paintings are a combination of three forms of artistic expression—music, poetry and the visual arts. Traditional Indian music is organized into a system of families according to its emotional and structural content; each family consists of a male raga with five wives, or raginis, forming a ragamala, or “a garland of melodies.” Poets applied vivid imagery to these musical modes, writing brief poems to accompany the musical and visual interpretations of a particular raga. Ragamala paintings were mounted in albums in large sets with up to six or seven ragas and their accompanying raginis.

Artworks in the exhibition include Rajput paintings from various geographical regions and diverse painting schools, ragamala paintings in the Mughal style produced in the late 18th century in Lucknow, and Nepalese paintings from an album dating to approximately 1625 and made in or near Bhaktapur, southeast of Kathmandu.

A Garland of Melodies is organized by Christine Knoke, Curator, Norton Simon Museum. Public programs accompanying the exhibition include the musical performance Ragas and Rasas: An Exploration of Indian Aesthetics through Music and Art on Friday, August 8, at 7:00 p.m., featuring Paul Livingstone on sitar and Sri Abhijit Banerjee on tabla.

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