There are 12 objects in three rows above a woman lying on a couch in her bedroom. The sun and the moon are shown just above her, to the right.

It is the brahmin lady Devānandā, in whom Mahāvīra’s embryo first took shape. Her name is mentioned in the facing text and in the caption in the upper left corner – Devāṇandā sapna 14, 3 – ‘The 14 dreams of Devānandā‘. The number 3 refers to the serial number of the illustration in this manuscript.

She is lying on her bed, dreaming the 14 auspicious dreams seen by the mother of a future Jina during her pregnancy. They announce his great destiny.

Moving from left to right, the images of the dreams are as follows:

  • Top row – elephant, bull, lion
  • Middle row – Goddess Śrī, garland, banner, full pot, followed by two ornamental  flowers
  • Bottom row – lotus pond, ocean, celestial cart, heap of jewels, blazing fire.

The long protruding eye is a typical feature of western Indian painting. Its origin is unclear.

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
  • the red background of the picture
  • the profusion of gold in the painting
  • the thick red margins, bordered with blue arabesques
  • three circles filled with red ink and surrounded by gold and blue ornamental motifs.

The three circles along the central horizontal plane are symbolic reminders of the way in which manuscripts were bound at one time. Strings through three holes in the paper were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The circles are in the places where the holes would once have been.


The elaborate script used for the main text is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, in a form which recalls calligraphy. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here for Prakrit.

There are a few notable features of this script:

  • it is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant, known as pṣṭhamātrā script
  • the red vertical lines within the text divide the long sentences into smaller parts, but are not necessarily punctuation marks.