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Manuscripts

Jain Kalpasutra

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Jain Kalpasutra
Mid-15th Century A.D.

Language: Prakrat Script: Devanagari
Materials: Paper
Dimensions: L: 30 W: 12 cm.
Acc. No. 48.29

This folio, manuscribed beautifully in gold, and illustration part conceived with Tirthankara figure engaged in turning beads, flanked by devotee figures in various vertical columns, is a page from a 15th century AD copy of the Kalpa-sutra manuscript, a 3rd BC text by sage Bhadrabahu. This copy of the Kalpa-sutra, a book of Paryushana rituals pursuing Swetambara sectarian line, was commissioned by the Jain Muni Kshemahansa Gani at Mandu, the capital of Malwa, under the reign of Sultan Mahmud. The Kalpa-sutra is one of the most revered texts of Swetambara Jains.

Almost a regular format, and the style of iconography, figures' stature and costume-types concretized, the folio devotes about half of the space to inscribing text, and other half, to the portrayal of deity and devotee figures. While the text is contained into two columns, one wider and other narrower, a wider cube towards the left has been devoted to portraying the Tirthankara image, besides three narrow strips for representing devotees. Besides a symbolic 'chhatra' - umbrella motif on the top and a course of geese under the seat a pair of stylized trees flanks the image of Tirthankara Mahavira represented as seated cross-legged and holding a rosary. The mutually conflicting zigzag border lines defining the sky, as also the earth, are a special feature that emerged in Kalpa-sutra illustrations late, around the mid-fifteenth century.

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