In the centre a well-dressed male figure rides a white elephant adorned in rich trappings. Behind him is a smaller figure mounted on a prancing white horse. In front of the elephant are two men on foot with raised swords, holding shields in their left hands. The curving white and blue bands of the background signal that the scene is set outside.

The picture shows King Māridatta happily seated on the back of an elephant. The man on the horse behind represents the royal retinue. Both animals are full of life. At the beginning of the procession are the two men appointed to find victims for sacrifice.

Not only has King Māridatta accepted the order of the Śaiva ascetic, Bhairava, to find sacrificial victims for the bloodthirsty goddess, but he has become enthralled by the mendicant. Māridatta offers to give him whatever he wants, and becomes attached to violence – hiṃsā. In great pomp, Māridatta goes into the forest, accompanying his men in the search for victims. He also visits the temple of the Goddess Caṇḍamāri. He does not listen to anybody and just goes anywhere on a whim, without thinking – he is like the trunk of an elephant, swinging in all directions.

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

Other visual elements

This is a good example of an average manuscript. A red background is used for the painting but there is no use of gold, intricate design elements or elaborate script.

The bottom of the right margin contains the number 4, which is the folio number.

In the upper and lower margins there are syllables missing from the main text, or corrections. The number before them is the line number where they should be inserted.


The script used for the main text is the Jaina Devanāgarī script. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here Apabhraṃśa Prakrit.