Ragini Todi -From a set of Ragamala


Ragini Todi -From a set of Ragamala



The painting belongs to a set of the dispersed Popular Mughal Ragamala dated 1605 CE, the colophon of which is on the illustration of Raga Maru, preserved in the National Museum, New Delhi.

The paintings of Ragini Todi are generally interpreted as a lady attracting the deer with her music. In Persian, the term todi means to separate. Ragini Todi is also considered a raga of profound sorrow as is explained by the musicians. The deepest experience of separation in every Indian household, is the occasion of sending the daughter to the in-laws, after marriage. A vivid description of the moment is given by the poet Kalidasa in his famous drama, Abhijnana Shakuntalam. The imagery used in the iconography of this ragini is probably derived from the description of Shakuntala and her little deer, at the time of her departure from Kanva’s hermitage. She is offering some fresh grass and coaxing the little deer to return to the hermitage. It may be interesting to note that some folk songs of western India, sung at this particular time of bidding farewell to the daughter after marriage, are known as tada. It is possible that the ragini is based on the songs sung at this time of the wedding.

The heroine, dressed in a deep green choli and red skirt, appears to be talking to the deer following her, affectionately persuading it to return. Her very thin waist, highly curved hips, her features, the pompom decorations, a long plaited braid of hair and a flat red background conform to the Popular Mughal style of painting.

In the Sangitadamodara, a 15th–16th century text on music, the dhyana of the musical mode Todi reads: “Todi is (lady) whose eyes are as charming as the full-blown lotus, who is beautiful like a garland of blue lotus blossoms, who approaches (presents) a young antelope with a shoot of rice.”


Indian Miniature Paintings

Object Type

Miniature Painting


Opaque watercolour on paper






Dated 1605 CE




Full page: 15.6 x 21.6 cms. Painting: 11.6 x 16.3 cms.