Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art

Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 397. A Set of 12 Illustrations Depicting the Changing Seasons "Baramasa", India, Kangra, circa 1820  .

Property of a Private Collection

A Set of 12 Illustrations Depicting the Changing Seasons "Baramasa", India, Kangra, circa 1820

Auction Closed

September 20, 05:33 PM GMT


50,000 - 70,000 USD

Lot Details


Property of a Private Collection

A Set of 12 Illustrations Depicting the Changing Seasons "Baramasa"

India, Kangra, circa 1820

Opaque watercolor on paper heightened with gold

Image: 9⅝ by 7¼ in. (24.4 by 18.4 cm)

Folio: 13 by 9⅞ in. (33 by 25.1 cm) each, (12), unframed

Each painting composed in an oval format inset within blue spandrels ornamented with delicate foliate designs, further framed by a yellow inner border with blossoms. 

Each verso bearing an inscription in Devanagari naming the month depicted.

Acquired in 1968, thence by descent. 

This very fine series of twelve paintings illustrates the text of the Baramasa (the song of the twelve months/ seasons) composed by the poet Keshav Das. Each painting depicts a couple (a nayika and a nayaka) seated facing each other on the carpeted outdoor terrace of a white marble pavilion. A landscape view in the background of each painting reflects the season and activities associated with that month. The choice of colors used to depict the couple's sumptuous costumes is also appropriately related to each season.

In one lively folio depicting the month of Bhadon (July-August), the couple sit together speaking as the dark swirling clouds of the monsoon roll in. The hero is dressed to leave. The weather is changing but it is still hot - elephants crazed by heat-madness uproot trees in the background. Powerful wind gusts bend fully-leaved trees as the waters begin to rise, flowing rapidly from increasing rainfall. On the terrace the nayika admonishes her beloved:

"The clouds are gathering, thunder rolls and rain pours in torrents.

The wind blows fiercely, the cicadas chirp.

Lions roar and the elephants fell the trees.

Day is dark like night and one's home is best.

Pray leave me not in the month of Bhadon

for separation pains like poison"

(from the Kavipriya of Keshav Das)

Complete sets of Baramasa paintings from the nineteenth Century are very scarce whether from the Pahari region as the present lot, or from Rajasthan. The paintings are generally compiled in a seasonal cycle beginning with Spring, viz: Chaitra / Baisakha / Jyeshtha / Ashadha / Shravan / Bhadon / Ashvina / Karttika / Agahana / Pausha / Magh and Phalguna. 

This theme of the twelve-month cycle of seasons has long been celebrated in the poetry, art and folk traditions of India. Perhaps the most popular version is found in the tenth chapter of the Kavipriya written by the poet Keshav Das of Orccha (1555-1617) which speaks of the joys of love and pangs of separation experienced by couples within the context of the changing seasons.

For Rajasthani versions depicting this theme see the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum London IS.32-1980 depicting the month of Karrtik, and the British Museum, 1999,1202,00.1.8 representing Bhadon. For Pahari illustrations of the subject see W.G. Archer, Pahari Paintings, London, 1973 Vol. I and II, nos. 44 and 45, and M.S Randhawa, Kangra Paintings on Love, New Delhi, 1994, Plates XXI, XXII and XXIV.