On the left, a lady is on her couch in her bedroom. It is the kṣatriya lady, Queen Triśalā, into whom Mahāvīra’s embryo was transferred. She is holding the newborn Mahāvīra in her arms and looking at him tenderly. On the right side is a female attendant, fanning the queen with a fly-whisk.

This is the standard scene of Mahāvīra’s birth, and, more generally, is used for the births of all Jinas.

The long protruding eye is a typical iconographic feature of western Indian painting. Its origin is not clearly known.

Note the painter’s care for details of the figures as well as of the furniture and decorative elements.

Other visual elements

As with many Kalpa-sūtra manuscripts, there is a clear intention to make the manuscript a valuable and remarkable object in itself. This aim is signalled by the:

  • shape and style of the script, which is close to calligraphy
  • blue background for the text
  • gold ink instead of the standard black ink for the writing
  • gold in the paintings instead of ordinary colours
  • borders of red arabesques
  • division of the text into two parts by a column holding an ornamental red disk vertically flanked by arrows.


The elaborate script used is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, which is here like calligraphy.

It is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant, and is known as pṛṣṭhamātrā script.