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Two folios from the
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Two folios from the "Kalpasutra" illustrating King Siddhartha at Court and the Renunciation of Mahavira


Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description These two illustrated folios are from a manuscript of the "Kalpasutra," one of the most important canonical texts of the Shvetambara Jain tradition. Part of the text relates the life stories of the twenty-four Jinas, the omniscient, spiritually liberated teachers revered by Jains. These folios depict moments in the life of Mahavira, the twenty-fourth Jina. In the first, Mahavira’s father, King Siddhartha, converses with two courtiers, most likely about the dreams of Queen Trishala that preceded Mahavira’s birth. The second folio depicts Mahavira’s renunciation of his life as a prince. Before giving up his jewels and fine clothing, he plucks out his own hair, enduring the discomfort it causes as an exercise in overcoming attachment to material comforts. The god Shakra (Indra) sits before him, receiving the hair with outstretched hands. Both illustrations make lavish use of blue pigments and gold, expensive materials that would have cost the manuscript’s donor a great sum of money. By donating such manuscripts to monastic libraries, members of the Jain laity provided a service to the religion and gained merit. In addition to playing a role in the sacred education of both monastic and lay Jains, manuscript copies of the Kalpasutra are objects of worship, especially during the annual festival of Paryushan, when Shvetambara Jains recite, listen to, and honor the holy manuscripts with ritual processions.
Conservation
Date Description Narrative
9/01/2015Treatmentexamined for exhibition; media consolidation; splits mended
Exhibitions
  • Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. 2015-2016.
Provenance John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore; given to Walters Art Museum, 2002.
Credit Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 2002

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Creator
Period
ca. 1450
Medium
ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
(Manuscripts & Rare Books)
Accession Number
W.910
Measurements
H of page: 4 1/2 × W: 11 5/8 in. (11.4 × 29.5 cm)
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