Jainism is propagated through the stories of twenty-four tirthankaras, figures who have conquered samsara (the cycle of death and rebirth) and provide others a bridge to follow them to moksha (liberation). This exquisite head carved in highly polished black stone epitomizes the elegance and fineness of Northwestern Indian sculpture of the period. The soft rounded facial contours are juxtaposed with strongly pronounced features. The elongated eyes are emphasized by undulating arched brows. The long straight nose contrasts the small bow-shaped mouth and round protruding chin. Even the symmetrically arranged tight curls of the hair are both precise and delicate, the overall effect creating an idealized image that is benevolently powerful.
Compare with a slightly later sculpture of a Jina in the Dallas Museum of Art with nearly identical features, particularly the modeling of the eyebrows and nose (DMA 2003.7.1).