On the top left is a finely dressed lady sitting in a kind of pavilion. On the top right a man riding a richly caparisoned horse makes his way towards her.

On the bottom left is a pen holding numerous animals – the paśuvāḍa of the right-hand margin caption. The animals are here shown as different kinds of antelopes. Turning his back to them is a large male figure seated in his chariot, pulled by a vigorous horse directed by a smaller charioteer.

The woman is Rājīmatī, the fiancée of Prince Nemi. From a young age Nemi has wanted to renounce the householder life to become an ascetic. After much persuasion from his family and friends he has overcome his reluctance to marry. The top right panel shows him riding his horse to the palace of his future in-laws. 

When Nemi sees all the animals penned up ready to be killed to feed the wedding guests, he is deeply troubled and repulsed. He decides to pull out of the marriage and renounce worldly life. 

The upward sweep of Nemi’s horse makes the viewer feel the strength of his reaction. 

This episode is a famous episode dear to the Jains’ hearts. This is in part because it underscores the repulsion towards violence and taking life if it can be avoided and thus the importance of vegetarianism. It is a major step in the spiritual journey of Neminātha or Lord Nemi, who is often called Ariṣṭanemi. He later becomes the 22nd Jina.

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 profusion of gold in the paintings 
  •  the blue arabesques in the margins
  • the three circles filled with red ink and surrounded by blue and gold 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 pṛṣṭhamātrā script 
  • the red vertical lines within the text divide the long sentences into smaller parts, but are not necessarily punctuation marks.

In this particular folio there are occasional rings over the writing. These notate the nasalised vowels and are used instead of simple dots. There are examples above the first line.