Exhibitions/ Art Object
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Birth of Mahavira: Folio from a Kalpasutra Manuscript

Date:
15th century
Culture:
India (Gujarat)
Medium:
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions:
Overall: 4 3/8 x 10 5/8 in. (11.1 x 27 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1955
Accession Number:
55.121.38.10
Not on view
Queen Trisala reclines on her bejeweled bed, with the newborn cradled in her arm, while a handmaid fans them. Overhead in the architectural canopy is set what appears to be a smokeless fire (the sun), emblematic of purity—one of the auspicious symbols that forecast Mahavira's birth. The birth scene is an enduring subject, appearing in all illustrated editions of the Kalpasutra. The queen's sari has a lotus-blossom meander pattern, typical of Gujarati textiles of this period; the Kalpasutra tells us that the queen dressed in fine silks and richly embroidered fabrics.
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