This painting’s iconography distinguishes it as being from a now dispersed ragamala series. Iconography for Devgandahr Ragini as with most ragas and raginis can differ enormously but in general can be said to show an ascetic at a remote hermitage, although it can even show this ascetic as is a woman who through severe austerities has become a bearded man. This example is of the former type. It shows two noble ladies visiting an ascetic at his remote hermitage, an attendant with morchal a signifier of the ascetic’s status as revered holy man.
The palace of the ladies can be seen in the distance below the rocky mountain. Here is evident a synthesis of Hindu and Mughal forms, the ascetic being not of the typical Hindu type with long matted dreadlocks but instead with shaved head and beard indicating he is Sufi. This Mughalised element is repeated in the treatment given the rocks of the mountain which are derived from Persian prototypes and adapted by Mughal artists.
European elements, via Mughal paintings, are strongly represented by the artist’s use of diminishing scale to represent the receding vista with fortified palace and townscape beyond. Leaving beyond doubt the painting’s Mughalised credentials are the absence of flat planes of colour applied with burnished and compacted opaque watercolour paint, so beloved of Rajput artists, with here the effect of a brush-drawing tinted with washes of transparent watercolours applied sparingly, the figures with delicate shading to show the volume and contour of human flesh.
For an example of “Deva-Gandhara Ragini” featuring female devotees visiting ascetic holy men see Figs. 143, 145, 146, Deva-Gandhara Ragini, Hyderabad circa 1770 in Miniatures of Musical Inspiration, Vol. II, Waldschmidt E & RL, Berlin 1975. This also features Mughal-derived Persianate rock formations and European perspective with palace/townscape in the distance. See also Figs. 287, 295,299 in Ragamala Painting, Ebeling K, Basel 1973.