Court lady singing and playing the vina

Court lady singing and playing the vina

c. 1760

Part of a set. See all set records

attributed to Muhammad Rizavi Hindi

(Indian, active mid-1700s)

Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper

Page: 31.1 x 26.2 cm (12 1/4 x 10 5/16 in.)

Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.349


Did you know?

When the mouth is open, and teeth and tongue are showing, she is singing.


Her mouth open slightly in song, the woman’s hennaed fingers strum a three-string vina, an Indian musical instrument with a resonator made from a gourd. Music was an essential component of courtly entertainment, along with the drinking of wine and the appreciation of poetry, paintings, and jewels.

On the verso, the first two lines in Persian read:
Once again, Iraqi broke his vows:
From the cup of love he became intoxicated and ecstatic.

The excerpt from the mystic poet Jami is more of a pious injunction:
Until you are bold enough to take to the seas,
You will not reap spiritual benefits from your inner heart.
Unless you pitch your tent next to the spiritual guide,
You will not enjoy him to the fullest.

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