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A Jain Manuscript, Kalpa Sutra
A Jain Manuscript, Kalpa Sutra


A Jain Manuscript, Kalpa Sutra
India, Rajasthan or Gujarat, 15th Century
The manuscript composed of 72 individual including two illustrated cover pages in foliate reserves; containing text pages in Jain Prakrit with 24 illustrations painted on a red ground with details in blue and highlighted in gold leaf, the figures delineated with black outline, depicting scenes from the lives of the Tirthankaras; shrines and scenes of instruction by white-clad monks
4 3/8 x 10¼ in. (11.1 x 26 cm.)

Lot Essay

The manuscript is painted in the early Chaurapanchashika style characterized by a strong line and palette of colors contrasting in deep reds and ultramarine blues. The pothi format emulates earlier palm-leaf manuscripts down to the red circular markings denoting where the palm leaves would have been joined by string.

The Kalpa Sutra (Book of Ritual) is the major canonical text of the Jain religion ascribed to scholar-monk Bhadrabahu (d. 385 B.C.). The first part, Jina Charita, describes in general terms the portents, conception, birth, adoration, renunciation, enlightenment and moksha of the 24 Jain Tirthankaras and specifically discusses in reverse chronological order Mahavira, Parsvanatha, Neminatha, and Rishabhnatha (respectively the 24th, 23rd, 22nd and 1st tirthankaras). The second part, Sthaviravali is a recitation of the names of various religious leaders. The third part, Sadhu Samachari, is a prescribed code of conduct for monks and nuns during the monsoon season. The Kalpa Sutra is still recited today during the 8-day Paryushan Festival.

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