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THE LADY AND THE LOTUS. Illustration to the Indian musical mode, Malasri Ragini. Malwa, Central India, c. 1640. Collection of the late F. j. P. Lory, London
THE LADY AND THE LOTUS


With plate 10, an example of the third strand in CENTRAL INDIAN PAINTING after possible influence from Ahmadnagar in the Deccan. Ahmad-nagar had possessed a short-lived school of painting in the second half of the sixteenth century, when the style of one of its greatest productions a prince and his lady reclining on a swingwas probably influenced by contact with Malwa painting of the Baz Bahadur period. It is noteworthy that the trees in this picture have the same foliage which occurs in the Narsinghgarh strand of later Malwa painting, and it seems likely that if the fall of Mandu in 1561 led to the migration of a few Malwa artists, the fall of Ahmadnagar in 1600 may have resulted in the same process but in reverse. Such a movement might then explain the appearance in the present picture of such Ahmadnagar idioms as gold sprigs flecking the red and olive backgrounds, the tilted bed, the austere throne, swirling scarf and foliage rimmed with gold.
The picture illustrates one of the 'ladies' of yet another 'musical prince', Malkaus Ragathe inclusion of the empty bed, the two peacocks and tame deer suggesting ardent longing. As she awaits her lover's arrival, she plucks the petals of a lotus, perhaps indulging in an Indian wishing game'he loves me, he loves me not'soothing herself by fingering the cool petals or even stroking in imagination the lover's skin.