A Tale of Three Muses: Music, Poetry and Art in India and Nepal

A Tale of Three Muses: Music, Poetry and Art in India and Nepal  explores music and its manifestation in the visual arts of India and Nepal. A loan of paintings and sculpture from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art complements works from the Norton Simon Museum's permanent collection.

Unique in the world of art, Ragamala paintings combine elements of Indian music, poetry, and painting. "Raga" is the word used to describe a melody in Indian music, and a string of ragas is known as "Ragamala" (Garlands of Ragas). For Indian musicians over two thousand years ago, music had a visual or bodily form in addition to its sound form. Each of the melodic modes, or ragas, was assigned a theme evocative of its flavor and "color." Later, poets wove these musical personifications (ragas) into verse. As early as the fifteenth century, pictoral representations of the descriptive verses had been created.

A complete and rare album of thirty-six Ragamala paintings from Nepal in the Simon collection form the nucleus of the exhibition. They are joined by six pictures of "heroines," which once formed an addendum to the Simon Ragamala album. This exhibition marks the first time in modern history—since the album was separated—that the works are displayed together.