The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of May 24, 2024

Court lady singing and playing the vina

Court lady singing and playing the vina

c. 1760
Location: not on view

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.
  • ?-1849
    Sir Charles Forbes, 7th Baronet [1773-1849], Bengal, London, and Scotland, by descent to his great-grandson, Colonel Sir John Forbes
    Colonel Sir John Stewart Forbes [1901-1984], Baronet, DSO, DL, Allargue House, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK, consigned to Sotheby's London for sale
    December 10, 1962
    (Sotheby's, London, Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures, lot 23)
    Ralph Benkaim [1914-2001], Beverly Hills, CA, by descent to his wife Catherine Benkaim
    (Catherine Glynn Benkaim [b. 1946], Beverly Hills, CA, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art)
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Sotheby's, London. Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures. December 10, 1962. Mentioned: Lot 23
    Krishnan, Gauri Parimoo. Beauty in Asia: 200 BCE to Today. Singapore: Asian Civilisations Museum, 2007. Reproduced: no. 31b
    Mace, Sonya Rhie, Mohsen Ashtiany, Catherine Glynn, Pedro Moura Carvalho, Marcus Fraser, and Ruby Lal. Mughal Paintings: Art and Stories: the Cleveland Museum of Art. London: D Giles Limited, 2016. Reproduced:cat. no. 86, pp. 256-257
  • Art and Stories from Mughal India. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (July 31-October 23, 2016).
    Beauty in Asia. Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore (May 3-September 23, 2007).
  • {{cite web|title=Court lady singing and playing the vina|url=false|author=Muhammad Rizavi Hindi|year=c. 1760|access-date=24 May 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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