The poetic genre known as the barahmasa, or ‘twelve months’, devotes a stanza to each of the months of the year. Found in the vernacular literatures of the north of India, it proved immensely popular amongst the rural communities and continues to be orally transmitted through village songs. This study is based on the oldest of the barahmasa-s, which appear mainly in three languages: ancient Marwari-Gujarati, Avadhi and old Bengali. It presents samples of the barahmasa in several dialects (13th century to the end of the 15th century A.D.) as well as two other texts, a caumasa of the 15th-16th century and a phagu of the 14th century, which trace the development of this literature. The texts are accompanied by a French translation.