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Jain Illustrations

The earliest miniature paintings of India are the Jain illustrations of the 11th century. These are the Kalpasutra (A Book of rituals) and the Kalkacharya Katha (the story of the venerable teacher Kalka) commissioned by the Jain merchants and bankers. Kalpasutra is a Prakrit work composed by Bhadrabahu in the 5th century BC. This canonical work narrates the early stages of development of Jainism, the successions of Pontiffs and the rules for Jaina monks during the rainy chaturmasa (four months). Besides these, the five propitious events- the descent from heaven, birth, initiation, obtaining of omniscience, and death and other events from the life of Mahavira and Tirthankaras are also integrated.


The KalkacharyaKatha story tells us the story of Prince Kalka who became a monk and his fight with Gardabhilla. One can often see these illustrations being read by Jain monks to the congregation on the occasion of Paryusana. Several uch illustrations have become a part of Jain libraries. These Jain illustrations employed vibrant inks and dyes in red, blue, gold and silver. Savaga-padikkamana-sutta-cunni from the 13th century is one of the other earliest surviving examples of illustrated manuscripts. It’s written by Pandit Ramachandra and it’s a palm leaf manuscript. This manuscript has miniature paintings of Jina Parsvanatha, a seated Jaina Monk instructing a disciple and goddesses who are recognized as Saraswati and Ambika. Other notable contributors of Jain illustrations are; Vrijnapritpatras and Uttaradhyayanasutra. Uttaradhyayanasutra was composed in the 4th A.D century and illustrated in the 15-16th A.D. century.  




November 3, 2008 Posted by | Illustrated Manuscripts | , , , | Leave a comment

Illustrated Manuscripts

India, as we all know is a culturally rich country. Indian art forms have existed since centuries and they have continued to enthrall people all over India. One of the torch bearers of rich Indian art world is vivid illustrated manuscripts. As per historians, they have existed since 11th century. The early manuscripts were found in eastern and western regions of India. These manuscripts were made of palm leaf folios bound between wooden covers with knotted cords passing through holes drilled through both covers and leaves. Palm leaves were replaced by paper during the 14th century. In this period manuscripts made up of gathered together between boards of still paper or wood wrapped in cloth became the trend.


During 15th century, vertical format bound book started to appear in increasing numbers which were mostly used for miniatures and calligraphic specimens. Rajput illustrations used self contained texts on each leaf with captions or with no text at all in 16th century. One of the earlist examples of manuscript illustrations is Astasahasrikaprajnaparamita or The Perfection of Wisdom in 8000 verses. This belonged to eastern India with collection of Buddha and other deities’ images.


Western India gave us Jain illustrated texts like Kalpasutra and the Kalakacharyakatha (The Story of Kalaka). Other illustrations gifts of western India were Balgopalastuti series and Vasanta Vilasa. Islamic culture gave us Persian paintings and illustrated manuscripts like Khamsah, Nimat- Nama, Sharaf-Nama and Iskandar-Nama. Mughal period was also instrumental in creation of famous illustrated manuscripts like Tutinama, Babur Nama, Akbar Nama, and Tuzuk I Jahangiri.


October 30, 2008 Posted by | Illustrated Manuscripts | , , , | Leave a comment