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  • Object:

    Manuscript page

  • Place of origin:

    India (Western, made)

  • Date:

    early 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted and written in opaque watercolour and ink on paper. Illustrations in red, blue, black, white, yellow and green

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Kalpasutra (Book of Rituals) is the most important canonical text in Jain literature for the Svetambaras (white-clad), one of the two sects of Jainism. Jainism is one of the oldest religions to have survived until the present time and its basic teaching is one of non-violence. The Kalpasutra is divided into three sections. The first section deals with the lives of the twenty-four Jinas or Tirthankaras, who were the Jain spiritual teachers or 'ford-makers'. The second part deals with the life of Mahavira, the twenty-fourth Tirthankara. The third part deals with rules for the ascetics and laws during the four months (chaturmas) of the rainy season, when ascetics temporarily abandon their wandering life and settle down amidst the laity. This is the time when the festival of Paryushan is celebrated and the Kalpasutra is traditionally recited.
Here the Shakra, chief of the gods, is commanding Harinaigameshin, the antelope- headed divine general, to transfer Mahavira's embryo from the Brahmani Devananda's womb to that of Trishala, a Kshatriya woman who was to gave birth to him. Brahmans are the hereditary priestly estate, while Kshatriyas were traditionally warriors or rulers. The illustration is opulently coloured with gold, blue and red, underlining the importance placed on such manuscripts.

Physical description

Illustrated recto of a leaf from a manuscript of the Kalpasutra (f.15), opaque watercolour and ink on paper, with an illustration on the right showing Shakra (Sakra) commanding the antelope-headed Harinaigameshin to transfer the embryo from Brahamni Devananda's womb and mother Trishala. The painting is in gold, red, white, black and green on a blue background. Black lines on Harinaigameshin's clothing appear to simulate a script. The text is in large black letters on a plain background. There are diamond-shaped medallions on the left, right and centre of the page. There are double marginal lines in red, with gold between the lines, on the left and right, and separating the picture from the text.

Place of Origin

India (Western, made)


early 16th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painted and written in opaque watercolour and ink on paper. Illustrations in red, blue, black, white, yellow and green

Marks and inscriptions

'Harinaigamesi adesha'
inscribed on margin


Length: 11.2 cm illustration only, Height: 7.5 cm, Length: 26.1 cm Full page

Descriptive line

Manuscript page, Kalpasutra, Sakra commanding Harinaigamesin to exchange embryos, opaque watercolour and ink on paper, Western India, early 16th century

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

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, p.126.


Opaque watercolour; Paint; Paper; Ink


Painted; Written

Subjects depicted

Embryo; Deities; Jainism


Paintings; Jain; Religion; Manuscripts; Illustration; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project


South & South East Asia Collection

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