Saturday, February 11, 2017

Garland of Ragas, 13th C AH 19th CE

"This is an album (muraqqaʿ) compiled in the late 13th century AH / 19th CE, or possibly later. It contains nineteen Deccani paintings and four pages of shikastah calligraphy, one of which is dated 1211 AH / 1796 CE (f. The paintings, which date to the late 12th century AH / 18th CE or 13th century AH / 19th CE, come from a ragmala series attributable to the Deccan. A ragmala is a visualization of a musical mode or melody. This album contains a mix of visualizations of ragas (male musical modes) and raginis (female musical modes considered to be the wives of the male musical modes)." [Source: Walters Art Museum W. 669]
"Ragamala paintings are pages from a garland (mala) of visual melodies (ragas). Each page visualises a particular mode (five or more musical tones), and is frequently accompanied by a brief inscription or poem that suggests the time of day, season and even mood of the raga.
The transformation of expression from music, through poetry to painting was a gradual one, most likely stimulated by the invention of paper. Medieval musicians would associate each raga or mode with a deity and name it, perhaps as a means of memorising a melody. Intrigued poets of the late medieval period then personified these ragas and elaborated their tales in vivid verbal imagery. These stories along with other influential musical texts provided the poetic source for ragamala painting." [source: What is Ragamala?]

Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Sri Raga

Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Todi ragini

Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Asavari ragini

Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Female performing a ritual at night with a full moon

west Indian manuscript miniature - a music visualisation with Persian calligraphy from Rajisthan
Shikastah^ calligraphy

Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Khambhavati ragini

Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Megha raga

Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Khambhavati ragini

Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Malavakausa raga 
(Malakausika, Malakausa, Malkos raga)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cantigas de Santa Maria, 13th C

Alfonso X, El Sabio was King of Castile and Leon in the second half of the thirteenth century. The moniker arises from his progressive attitude towards education, law and particularly to the fostering of scientific knowledge. He established a translation school at Toledo which helped circulate knowledge from the Arab world about the Ptolemeic cosmogony and the philosophy of the ancients

His greatest direct legacy comes from the commissioning (and part authorship) of the 425 poems with accompanying musical script that constitutes the largest body of solo (monophonic) songs from medieval times. Written in the Castilian lyrical language of Galacian-Portuguese the hymns, which include some chanting, are extremely diverse in metrical composition and all of them either mention or directly praise the Virgin Mary.

Today the work is spread between four codex that were written and illuminated in the 14th and 15th centuries. Information about this great body of work is spread haphazardly around the internet and reflects a dearth of scholarship about the three areas of its excellence, art, music and literature, despite being popular with medievalist musicians and many recordings having been made. In fact, it was recently reported that Oxford University have established a centre devoted to studying the Cantigas.

All but one of the images here come from a Japanese website which appears to have the largest number of illustrations (from the E codex).

If you have even a passing interest in world +/- medieval music, I would recommend listening to some samples.
This amazon page has a few examples with a Moroccan orchestra, though I don't suppose that is the main reason one senses influence from the Arab world. All of the tunes (and all the lyrics) are available in midi format from this French website - but the samples sound like they were made with an electronic synthesizer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Military ABC Book, 19th C

'Armée Française : Nouvel Alphabet Militaire'
Text by Pierre Léon Vanier
Illustrations by Henri de Sta
This 1880s book - obviously aimed at young people - offers satirical portrayals of various branches and uniforms of the French military and each chromolithograph is accompanied by a page of descriptive text.

Letter 'A'

A is for Artillery

Letter 'B'

B is for Brigadier

Letter 'C'

C is for Cuirassier

Letter 'D'

D is for Dragoon
-...let the images grow at this time as the scroll passed my links on right hand side :)

Letter 'G'

G is for Gendarme

Letter 'J'

J is for Justice and Order

Letter 'K'

K is for Képi

Letter 'O' (courtesy BnF)

O is for Officer

Letter 'Q' (courtesy BnF)

Q is for Quartier Maitre (A marine)

Letter 'R'

R is for Reservist

Letter 'V'

V is for Vaguemestre (Military Postmaster)

Letter 'X'

X is for X. Polytechnicien 
[graduate of École polytechnique (aka: X), a higher ed facility near Paris]

Letter 'Y'

Y is for (?) Commander of supply lines (road or rail trains)

Letter 'Z'

Z is for Zouave

French illustrator Henri de Sta was born in Versailles as Arsène Henri Saint-Alary. He began his career around 1882 with La Vie Artistique and the publishing house of Léon Vanier. Coming from a family of militaries, garrison life became a regular theme in his career. De Sta worked as a humorous illustrator for Le Chat Noir since 1892. He was also present in Le Paris Bouffon (1885), Le Rire (1897) and Le Charivari (1900). He composed military alphabets, illustrated songs and produced comics for La Chronique Amusante from 1896, and for Les Contes Moraux et Merveilleux of the printing firm Pellerin d'Epinal."