A Ragamala (garland of ragas) is a series of paintings in which different musical modes are personified by male and female figures (ragas and raginis). Here, Ragini Todi, seated on a rich carpet, turns her spinning wheel. As her abstracted gaze suggests, her thoughts are elsewhere. She is longing for her lover, her melancholy mood heightened by the gray background. In the Rajasthani tradition, Ragini Todi is shown wandering alone in a forest, playing a musical instrument and attracting deer drawn to her beauty and song. In paintings such as this one, however, from the far north of India, a spinning wheel helps to occupy her time. Its constant motion is her only distraction from thoughts of her absent lover.
Todi Ragini, from a Ragamala series, Himachal Pradesh, India, Bilaspur School, ca. 1725, MS M.1016. Gift of Paul F. Walter, 1979.