The slightly damaged description in the top-left corner says: īṭavāha – ‘carrying bricks’.

The illustration contains two scenes at different levels.

On the upper level at the left is a potter’s kiln full of a heap of bricks. Facing the kiln is a Jain monk wearing the typical Śvetāmbara monastic robe. This is Kālaka. He holds the cotton broom under one of his arms. The thumb and index of his other hand are folded to show that he is throwing magic powder on the bricks. Sprinkled with this magic powder, the bricks become gold ingots. The man on the right leaves the scene carrying a load of gold on his head.

On the bottom level the figure on the left carries a load of gold, followed by a man on horseback. The mounted man wears a kind of turban and holds a sword. He is a sāhi. This is what the Śakas call their chiefs.

The monk Kālaka is noticeably different from the other men in this picture. They are Śakas, who live beyond the Indus river, which traditionally marks the boundary of the Indian subcontinent. The foreignness of the Śakas is emphasised by their depiction in art, namely:

  • they have full flat faces
  • they have slanting eyes, not the protruding eye typical of Indians in paintings from western India
  • their beards have a distinctive shape, similar to those found in Central Asian or Chinese populations
  • their clothes are very different from those of Indians.

This painting illustrates an episode in the life of the prominent ascetic Kālaka. In the course of his wanderings, Kālaka travels to a place known as Śakakūla, beyond the Indus. There live the Śakas, whose chiefs have the title sāhi and whose king is referred to as sāhāṇusāhī. Thanks to his magic powers, Kālaka wins the favour of one sāhi. Kālaka has convinced the Śakas to go to Malwa, the capital town of which is Ujjain. He and his allies are on their way to rescue Kālaka’s sister, the nun Sarasvatī. She has been kidnapped by the wicked ruler of Ujjain, King Gardabhilla.

Kālaka and the Śakas reach the region of Saurāṣṭra but are forced to stay there because the rainy season makes travelling impossible. The rescuers’ supplies run out so Kālaka sprinkles magic powder on bricks. As shown in the top scene, the bricks are transformed into gold. The gold is distributed among them so they can buy provisions and continue on to Malwa. This is what the text says.

Other visual elements

There are several notable things about this page, namely that:

  • the original paper is slightly torn and has water stains
  • the bottom of the right margin contains the number 5, which is the folio number.

This version of the Kālaka story is in verse, with numbers at the end of each stanza, often between two vertical lines, like here. On this page they are:

  • 39 in the middle of line 2
  • 40 at the end line 4
  • 41 at the beginning of line 7.

The three red circles along the central horizontal plane are symbolic reminders of the way in which manuscripts were bound when they were on palm-leaf. Here the central one is in a square blank shape. Strings through three holes 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 is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, in a form which recalls calligraphy. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here Prakrit.

There are a few notable features of this script, namely that:

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