Description Parshvanatha is one of twenty-four Jinas, “victors” who achieved omniscience through meditation and strict self-discipline, taught others the path to omniscience, and, upon death, became liberated from the cycle of rebirth that traps most living beings in the realm of material existence. Represented either seated or standing in meditation, most Jinas are very similar in appearance, but Parshvanatha is distinguished by the seven-headed serpent that shelters him as he meditates. According to one account in Jain scripture, Parshvanatha saved a serpent that had been trapped in a log by a fire. The snake, once reborn as the lord of the snakes, later sheltered him from a storm sent by a demon. Each Jina is associated with a male "yaksha" (god) and female "yakshi" (goddess), deities that protect the Jina and his teachings; seen here below are Parshvanatha’s "yaksha," Dharanendra, and his "yakshi," Padmavati, additional forces of protection. In worshiping the Jinas, Jains venerate the principles that each Jina preached, including nonviolence and respect toward all living beings. This sculpture was made for a temple or shrine, where it would have been kept along with many other devotional images. Its details have been worn by the libations poured over it during many years of worship. The inscription on the base gives the date of the sculpture, but its donor remains anonymous.
- 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.
Inscriptions [Date] Inscribed on base: 1588
Credit Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 2002
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