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According to the text on its reverse (see Appendix), this painting is an illustration from a Baramasa (The twelve months) series of the month of Chaitra (March-April), which is the first month of the traditional Indian calendar. The verses describe the splendor of the blossoming spring landscape and the sexually exhilarating effect of the season on peacocks and maidens. The painting depicts Krishna sitting on a garden terrace with Radha, who is trying to persuade the blue-skinned lord to stay with her rather than go traveling during the month. In the background of the painting are a landscape) and a river that is rendered with fine, parallel lines reminiscent of Western engraving techniques. There is also a town, temple tank, and walled compound, as well as numerous inhabitants portrayed in an impressionistic manner. A mid-nineteenth-century date for the painting is suggested by the background features as well as the figural and clothing style of Krishna and the distinctive zigzag hemline of Radha's garment (cf. Leach, p. 301, no. 129).
The Baramasa literature of medieval northern India consists of various cycles of oral and written celebrations of the seasonal varieties of the behavior and feelings of lovers over the course of the twelve lunar months of the year. Verses devoted to the twelve months survive from at least as far back as the twelfth century and were particularly popular during the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries in Bengal, Gujarat, and Rajasthan (Vaudeville). Ancient Sanskrit verses glorifying the seasons exist, such as the Ritusamhara (Collection of the seasons) by the great poet and playwright Kalidasa (c. 365-c. 455), but these are specifically concerned with the traditional six Indian seasons of spring, summer, the rains, autumn, winter, and the cool season rather than with the twelve months of the year. The majority of Baramasa verses composed primarily of village women's folk songs or literary poems written in the various regional vernacular languages emphasize the pain of a young wife's separation from her beloved. Descriptions of the different seasons are paired with diverse feelings of longing to evoke the individual mood of each month. Greater emphasis is given to the four months of the rainy season (June through September) than to the remainder of the year, and a select grouping of songs and poems, the Caumasa (Four months), even evolved to celebrate the especially emotive rainy season, which is traditionally connected with the laments of lovers in separation.
Among the best known of the poetic expressions of the Baramasa are those contained in the tenth chapter of the Kavipriya (The poet's breviary), a work on rhetoric written in 1601 by Kesavadas for his patron Indrajit Shah's favorite courtesan, Pravinaraye. The Baramasa verses in the Kavipriya describe the monthly climates and activities of Indian life and relate them to the joys and sorrows of lovers. It was these poems by Kesavadas, rather than the village Baramasa folk songs, that were favored and illustrated by Pahari painters.
Writer Name: - Pratapaditya Pal