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Manuscript page - Uttaradhyayanasutra

Uttaradhyayanasutra

  • Object:

    Manuscript page

  • Place of origin:

    Stambhatirtha, Cambay, Gujarat, India (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1460 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and ink on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:27-1972

  • Gallery location:

    South Asia, room 41, case 1A

  • Download image

This is a folio from a manuscript of the Uttaradhyayanasutra, a Jain text. Jainism is one of the oldest living religions in the world and had emerged in India by around the 6th century BC. Its best-known ideal is non-violence. Jains revere 24 Jinas (spiritual victors) or Tirthankaras (fordmakers), who showed the way to achieve liberation from the ocean of birth and rebirth.

The Uttaradhyayanasutra is believed by members of the Shvetambara sect of Jains to contain the last teachings of Mahavira, the 24th and last Jina, considered to be the historical founder of Jainism. This canonical text is concerned with the rules of behaviour that govern monastic life. The Uttaradhyayanasutra is classified as a 'Mula' or 'fundamental' work of Jain scripture.

This Uttaradhyayanasutra manuscript is one of the earliest known illustrated versions. It lacks the lavish use of gold and ultramarine blue seen in many contemporary and later manuscripts but its fine illustrations are notable for the quality of line, harmonious colour balances and the often lively and unusual compositions.

The illustration on this folio shows the story of the True Sacrifice.

Physical description

Folio recto, opaque watercolour and ink on paper, from a manuscript of the Uttaradhyayanasutra. One of 46 leaves on light-brown paper. The text, written in black ink, is in 15 lines. Not all folios are illustrated but the illustration, where present, is on the left and is roughly square in shape. In the centre of each page the text is interrupted by a lozenge-shaped blank space. There are thin double-ruled black margins filled with red. Gold is not used in this manuscript.
This folio recto is an illustration of the 'True Sacrifice' and has an image of a sacrifice (a goat).

Place of Origin

Stambhatirtha, Cambay, Gujarat, India (made)

Date

ca. 1460 (made)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and ink on paper

Dimensions

Height: 11.5 cm, Width: 30 cm

Object history note

A folio from the Uttaradhyanasutra, a Jain text containing the last teachings of Mahavira. This canonical text set out the rules of behaviour for the monastic community.

Jain monks have traditionally been supported by a much larger lay community, who gained spiritual merit by commissioning manuscripts, which were preserved in temple libraries. Jainism has two sects, Shvetambara and Digambara, and the illustrated manuscript to which this folio belongs was painted for Jains of the Shvetambara sect. Surviving Jain manuscripts show that a distinctive Western Indian painting style had developed by the 12th century.

The earliest Jain manuscripts were written on palm leaf with painted wooden covers but during the 14th century paper came into general use for illustrated manuscripts. One feature that can be seen in this manuscript is the interruption of the text with a lozenge-shaped blank space to allow for the perforation of a binding cord. In fact, no such hole has been made. This is a reminder that medieval paper manuscripts in this format were still following in some respects the conventions of the long narrow strips of the palm-leaf manuscript.

This manuscript bears a later colophon stating that it was produced at Stambhatirtha in Cambay on the Gujarat coast, which was a major port and hub of Jain mercantile activity.

Descriptive line

Manuscript page recto, Uttaradhyayanasutra Sutra, the True Sacrifice, ink and paint on paper, Gujarat, Jain, ca. 1460

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Brown, W. Norman, 'Manuscript Illustrations of the Uttaradhyayana Sutra'. American Oriental Society, New Haven, Connecticut, 1941, 45 p.
Note: Explanatory text and examples, all of which are different from the V&A folios. Balbir et al note the divergence of the illustrations in the V&A manuscript from the more common examples shown in Brown.
Guy, J. 'Jain Manuscript Painting' and catalogue number 84 'Chaste Monk Avoids the Lures of Women' in Pal, P. ed. 'The Peaceful Liberators: Jain Art from India', New York and London : Thames and Hudson and Los Angeles : Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1995. ISBN 050001650x and ISBN 0875871720. Pp.89-99, especially pp.96-97; p.206.
Balbir, N. et al, 'Catalogue of the Jain Manuscripts of the British Library including the holdings of the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum'. London, British Library and Institute of Jainology, 2006. Vol 1, pp.38-39, Vol 2, pp.138-141.

Labels and date

PAGES FROM AN UTTARADHYAYANASUTRA MANUSCRIPT
Opaque watercolour, gold, mica and ink on paper. Cambay, Gujarat, c. 1450
ABOVE: THE SAMITIS OR ARTICLES OF
THE JAIN DOCTRINE
IS.2-1972, folio 26r
The Uttaradhyayanasutra is a Jain canonical text
with rules for monks. Orthodox Jains believe it
contains the teachings of Mahavira, the last of
24 Jinas (spiritual ‘victors’ or saviours).
This lesson concerns five samitis (regulations for
monks’ behaviour) and three guptis (the mastery
of mind, speech and body respectively). The
illustration is unusual. Its central figure, standing
in kayotsarga, the immovable ‘body-abandonment’
posture, may represent control over the body. The
small figures on his body are Jinas and monks.
CENTRE: THE TRUE SACRIFICE
IS.2-1972, folio 27r
Non-violence is a key principle of Jainism. Here
a Brahmin priest Vijayaghosha is carrying out a
sacrifice, with the vessels for the ritual shown
above. Below, the Jain monk Jayaghosha explains
to Vijayaghosha that animal sacrifice cannot save
the sinner. Instead, the way to salvation is to live
the pure life of a Jain monk, detached from
passions, injuring no living beings and following
the Jain law.
BELOW: THE RULES OF GOOD
CONDUCT FOR MONKS
IS.2-1972, folio 28r
This lesson illustrated here prescribes correct
behaviour in various situations, also how the monk
divides up his day into study, meditation and almsseeking.
Here a senior monk, whose importance is
indicated by his large size in the picture, is
approached by two respectful junior monks. This
scene may illustrate paying respects to one’s
superior before he allocates duties, confession
(which must be done twice daily) or simply
teaching. [27/9/2013]

Production Note

The place of origin is given in a later colophon in the manuscript

Materials

Paper; Ink; Opaque watercolour

Techniques

Painted

Subjects depicted

Men; Goat; Sacrifice

Categories

Religion; Manuscripts; Illustration; Paintings; Jain

Collection code

SSEA

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Qr_O1175210
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