The expected caption in the upper-left corner is missing, where the edge of the folio has been torn.

Five white-clad monks sit in the lotus position of meditation, holding their right hands in the gesture of explanation.

Judging from this gesture, they are preaching the message of the Jinas to their listeners.

The text beside the illustration is the start of the Sthavirāvalī section of the Kalpa-sūtra and gives the beginning of the list of the names of Mahāvīra‘s chief disciplesgaṇadhara.s There are 11 chief disciples and in this manuscript they are distributed over two paintings, with five portrayed here.

These monks appear in the standard representation, seated in meditation posture in a garden pavilion. They wear the white robe of the Śvetāmbara mendicants and hold the broomrajoharaṇa – under their right arms.

Other visual elements

The original paper is slightly damaged. But, 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:

  • coloured background for the text
  • gold ink instead of the standard black ink
  • decorated border with blue floral motifs
  • diamond filled with gold ink, with ornamental blue border.

The diamond in the centre is a symbolic reminder of the way in which manuscripts were bound when they were on palm leaf. Strings through holes in the paper were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The diamond is in one of the places where the holes would once have been.