What remains of the damaged caption in the top-left corner says: cūrṇṇa – ‘powder’. This describes using magic powder to change bricks into gold.

The illustration contains two scenes at different levels.

On the left of the upper level 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 and holds the monastic staff – daṇḍa. The thumb and index finger of his other hand are touching each other to show that he has scattered magic powder on the bricks. Sprinkled with this magic powder, the clay bricks become gold ingots. The man on the right leaves the scene carrying an ingot of gold on his head. His costume and face show that he is a servant of the Śaka king.

On the bottom level the figure on the left has his arms raised, in order to show that he is carrying gold. He is followed by a man on horseback. Both are servants of the Śaka king.

This painting illustrates an episode in the life of the monk Kālaka. In the course of his wanderings, Kālaka travels to a country beyond the Indus. There live the Śakas, whose chiefs have the title sāhi and whose king is referred to as sāhāṇusāhī. Thanks to his magical powers, Kālaka wins the favour of one sāhi and convinces the Śakas to go to Malwa, the capital of which is Ujjain. The monk and his allies aim to rescue his sister, the nun Sarasvatī. She has been kidnapped by the wicked ruler of Ujjain, King Gardabhilla.

Kālaka and the Śakas reach the region of Saurashtra 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.

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, specifically that:

  • they have full flat faces
  • they have slanting eyes, not the protruding eye typical of Indians in painting 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.

Other visual elements

This manuscript is the continuation of the Kalpa-sūtra manuscript Or. 13959 and has water stains on the paper.

The red circle in the middle is decorative. It is a symbolic reminder of the way in which manuscripts were bound when they were on palm leaf. Here the circle is in a square blank shape. Strings through one or more holes were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The circle is in one of the places where the holes would once have been.

The circle is ornamented with diamonds and floral motifs. The margins are also decorated with blue patterns. A recto side, like this one, is less decorated than verso sides. This is common in manuscripts of the Kalpa-sūtra and the Kālaka story, which are objects used in ritual worship during the Paryuṣaṇ festival.


The elaborate script is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, in a form which recalls calligraphy. It is used for writing many Indian languages, here for Sanskrit.

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

  • 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, which, though they are used to divide the long sentences into smaller parts, are not necessarily punctuation marks.

Here, each pair of red lines surrounds the stanza number, which is at the end of each stanza. In red ink, the stanza numbers on this page are:

  • 32 at the beginning of line 2
  • 33 in the middle of line 5
  • 34 at the beginning of line 8.