Jain Miniatures

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an analysis of the art styles and the techniques used in some of the important and famous jain miniature paintings of india

Text of Jain Miniatures


What is a miniature painting?

Miniature is often used in the sense of "smallrepresentation" It is a form of fine art on a smaller scale It has artistic and intricate details and fineness These paintings depict discipline through all stages of production It's fundamental to reduce the image of the subject matter and transfer it on a plain base in a very diminutive scale, the more diminutive, the better Pala, Orissa, Jain, Mughal, Rajasthani, Deccani, Pahari, Nepali etc. are names of different schools of Indian Miniatures. Every school had its own distinctive style of paintingsbe it the topic, material or colours These paintings were initially done on tala patra The subjects of these paintings were either related to relegious rituals, daily activities, stories and folklores or merely the patrons (mainly the rulers)

Jain Miniature Paintings

Jain Miniature Painting

The earliest miniature paintings of India are the Jainillustrations of the 11th century in the Kalpasutra and Kalkacharya Katha . Jain Miniatures used strong pure colours. They employed vibrant inks and dyes in red, blue, green gold and silver. Female figure were rare in Jain school. However some were found there but they were of worshipped Goddesses of the TirthanKaras There were some very distinctive features of jain mininatures: Stylish figures with heavy gold outlines Reduction of dress to angular segments Enlarged eyes Square shapes of hands Paintings of the eyes have been a speciality of this school. The paintings Ek Chasma (side profile) Dedh Chasma (one and a half eye face) have been done in this school

Jain Miniature Paintings

The identity of a Jina or Tirthankara (in painting or in sculpture) is normally indicated by a motif immediately below the Jina (usually an animal). In fig 1 there is a faint outline of a bull implying the Jina is Risabha A fruit lies on their hands and there is a tilak on their forehead features belonging to the iconography of the Jina The human figures surrounding the jina (fig 1) are heavenly dancers and musicians There are two0 curved green stalks surrounding the head a prominent and an old feature[fig1] Seated Tirthankara

[fig 2 ] Emancipated Jina

The symbol

below the Jina is a lion thus the Jina is

Mahavira Below the Jina is a crescent symbolic of the place of nirvana or salvation Miniatures portraying the emancipated Jina in this way are not rare. The Jinas are naked and richly decorated The basic colour combination is white/gold in a red background

Jain Miniature Paintings

Upper half of the miniature is occupied by the 14 lucky dreams the Jinas mother sees which are later interpreted by the sooth sayers The bed and the dresses are prominent features The jewellery and the services provided under the bed (spittoon betel leaves) show the royalty[fig 3] mother of jina : the fourteen dreams

[fig4] new born Jina with mother

The dresses, the jewellery and the objects below the bed are marks of royalty The child is represented besides the mother in a blue background

Jain Miniature Paintings

Fig.5 shows the samavasarana, a mythological structure which is connected with the lives of the 24 Jinas. (All the Jinas delivered their sermons in such a construction. It is an open arena or amphitheatre. The Jina is seated in the centre, and quadrupled in a way so that he is seen from all four sides. ) The listeners, human beings and gods, is seated in the central area. The Jina shown is Parshva- recognized by his seven snake hoods. The samavasarana surrounded by animals - shown in pairs of one a beast of prey, the other its prey. All beings are thus shown as living harmoniously together under the peaceful influence of the sermon of the Jina.

Fig.6. The four SoothSayers

Fig.5.The Samavasarana

Fig 6 shows the four sooth-sayers who interprete the dreams of the royal mother of the Jina . All four figures display the scarf wound around the waist, the two ends standing out from the body. The artist has introduced variety : different colours of the hair, of the beards, of the dhoti. decorative efforts (border etc.)

Jain Miniature Paintings

Figs.7-8 portray two worshippers, a bearded layman and a laywoman, both seated with their legs crossed. Their hands are placed together, performing an act of worship. The cloth between their hands is evidently an object linked with worshipping A small boy is represented behind the male figure and a basket behind the female figure. The two stand out clearly against the red background. The Dedh Chasma style of painting is evident from the profiles of the three figures It is dated 1241 A.D. and written on palm-leaves. It is thus much older than the manuscripts of the six preceding figures as they were done on paper (paper was introduced round about 1500 A.D.) Before the introduction of paper, all manuscripts were written on palm-leaves these were extremely long

Fig.9. Layman in worshipping posture

Fig.10. Laywoman in worshipping posture

Jain Miniature Paintings

The 23rd jina, Nemi was the only jina who wasnt married According to legend, when Nemi was advancing to the home of his prospective wife, he saw a large number of game kept in an enclosure and waiting to be slaughtered. Nemi was shocked, forsook the idea of marriage and renounced the world. His intended, Rajimati, was sad beyond measure when she heard of Nemi's decision. She thereupon adopted the same course In Fig 9 Nemi (his colour being blue) is shown on a chariot with the charioteer before him advancing to the house of his prospective bride. The animals are shown in a circular enclosure The marriage pictogram consists of two rows of superimposed pots, forming two posts which are held together by a green garland at the top The way the horses, the charioteer and Nemi have been shown depict certain velocity in which they are moving

Fig.9 Preparations for Nemi's marriage

Jain Miniature Paintings

Fig 10-11 are parts of a cloth painting which measures 30 feet by 12 inches. It includes seven separate paintings. The original painting is basically a narrative sequence, describing a pilgrimage to a Jain temple on a hill The Jinas depicted in the sections in fig 10 are portrayed in different colours- one being Parshvas (colour: blue), the others cannot be identified Parshva is always depicted with seven snake-hoods above his head. The round ramparts in both "sections" are reminiscent of the samavasarana concept. Upper panel in Fig.10 show pious Jain laymen ascending a hill. The lower panel displays two Jina shrines in a round rampart .To the right follows a cart with the bullocks unyoked.. In Fig.11 there is a Jina shrine in a round rampart, A monk is shown instructing another monk and a group of followers (third line). Two carts with unyoked bullocks can be seen with one of the carts carrying a Jina image representing a procession car (first and second line). Two Jina shrines can also be seen(first line).

Fig 10 Painting on cloth. Section depicting a pilgrimage

Fig 11. Another Section of painting on cloth

Jain Miniature Paintings

Fig12-13 reveals strong Mughal influence paintings :(turbans and jamaz). A blend of Mughal and traditional Western Indian Jain elements appeared in illustrated manuscripts in the seventeenth century. Fig 12 shows a blue-skinned Krishna sitting on a throne with an attendant behind to the right are Krishnas emblems: the discus-l, bow sword, gem, club, garland and conch. In this blend, Jain figures lost their protruding eye and became dressed in the Mughal fashion, as can be seen in fig 13

Fig 12 Miniatures from Sangrahani Sutra

Fig 13

Jain Miniature Paintings

In fig 14 the manuscript reads: when Rsabha was chosen by the people as their first king, the god Shakra fashioned a gold dais and throne for him, brought holy waters, and dressed him in royal garments. Twins living in a lake nearby brought water to anoint him but, overwhelmed by his magnificence, only dared throw it on his feet There are circular discs behind the heads of the two main characters depicting their godly status Also present are the hanging umbrellas over their heads In this gold has been used on paperFig 15 two roundels of a creeper

Fig 14 A leaf from Jain Kalapasutra

The fig.15 shows a decorative tala patra painting in which within the roundels of a running creeper we see a pair of birds (geese) and a giraffe. A giraffe is also depicted on a slab attached to the plinth of the sun-temple at Konarka (Orissa) It has been observed that political relations and trade relations might have brought rare and exotic animals to interested and wealthy individuals

Jain Miniature Paintings

Fig 16 shows one of the other earliest surviving examples of illustrated manuscripts is Savagapadikkamana sutra. It is a palm leaf manuscript from the Mewar region. The manuscript shows illustrations or miniature paintings of Jina Parsvanatha, the Jina is shown instructing a disciple and goddesses who are recognized as Saraswati and Ambika. In total, the set consists of six illustrations that are executed on square panel spaces left between the lines of writing.

fig 16 Panel from a Jain manuscript

Jain Miniature Paintings