Exhibitions/ Art Object

The Courtesan Kosa with the King's Charioteer: Folio from a Kalpasutra Manuscript

15th century
India (Gujarat)
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Image: 4 1/4 in. × 8 in. (10.8 × 20.3 cm) Sheet: 4 1/4 × 10 5/8 in. (10.8 × 27 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1955
Accession Number:
Not on view
Sthulabhadra, a resident of Pataliputra (modern Patna) in the fourth century b.c., lived with the courtesan Kosa before his conversion to Jainism and renunciation of his former life. As a penance he chose to spend the rainy season living with her in her house as a test of his commitment to his vows of chastity. He remained unmoved by Kosa's attempts at seduction. When the king died, the courtesan was given to a charioteer who so admired his new mistress's respect for her former lover that he, too, converted to Jainism, becoming a monk, and she, a nun.

Sthulabhadra became a great acharya and eventually the head of the sangha (community of monks and nuns). This moralizing story celebrates the charioteer's archery skills and Kosa's unsurpassed qualities as a dancer, neither of which could match the spiritual accomplishments of Sthulabhadra.
Related Objects

Devananda's Fourteen Auspicious Dreams Foretelling the Birth of Mahavira: Folio from a Kalpasutra Manuscript

Artist: Master of the Jaunpur Kalpasutra (Indian) Date: ca. 1465 Medium: Opaque watercolor on paper Accession: 1992.359 On view in:Not on view

Maharana Sarup Singh Inspects a Prize Stallion

Artist: Tara (Indian, active 1836–1870) Date: 1845–46 Medium: Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper Accession: 2001.344 On view in:Gallery 464

Krishna Revels with the Gopis: Page from a Dispersed Gita Govinda (Song of the Cowherds)

Date: ca. 1630–40 Medium: Opaque watercolor and silver on paper Accession: 2003.165 On view in:Gallery 251

Shiva and Parvati Playing Chaupar: Folio from a Rasamanjari Series

Artist: Devidasa of Nurpur (active ca. 1680–ca. 1720) Date: dated 1694–95 Medium: Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper Accession: 57.185.2 On view in:Not on view

Leaf from a Kalpa Sutra (Jain Book of Rituals)

Artist: Bhadrabahu (Indian, died ca. 356 B.C.) Date: 15th century Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Accession: On view in:Not on view