The Anxious or Expectant Heroine

Probably from a Rasikapriya of Keshav Das series

Punjab Hills, Kangra, ca. 1825

Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

Folio 11 ¼ x 8 ⅝ in, 28.5 x 22 cm

Painting 7 ⅞ x 5 ¼ in, 20 x 13.5 cm


Inscribed: Mugdha utka nayika


The Nayika repines on her bed longing for her lover. Much Indian poetry concerns lovers in a wide variety of situations and separation was a very popular theme. The word mugdha in the inscriptions at the top of the painting lets us know that this is a young inexperienced or naïve woman. Her sakhi or friend listens to her and consoles her. The cool palette effectively conveys the time of day and the severe angle of the bed and the few patches of bright orange add a sense of agitation. The moon bursting over the mountain with a star studded sky and the candles on the terrace giving off fountains of light, suggest that she will stay awake all night longing for her lover. Nayikas of the class called Utka usually are depicted alone in the forest, but there are other situations where we see these young women anxiously awaiting their lovers at home.

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