Sitting under an arch, a large blue figure takes the lotus position of meditation on a throne. He is richly bedecked in jewellery and has a kind of tilaka on his forehead. He is flanked by standing men facing the throne. A large white crescent is below.

The 22nd Jina Neminātha or Lord Nemi is the seated figure. He is easily identified by the blue colour of his body, the same as that of the Hindu god Kṛṣṇa, his cousin according to the Jain tradition. The figures at the sides stand in worship.

The white crescent is the siddha-śilā, which represents the concept of emancipation. This means that the soul is being liberated from the physical body. Nemi’s soul was liberated after he had lived a thousand years. 

Apart from the crescent, this picture is the standard representation of a Jina living in the heaven before his final incarnation as a Jina. The emancipation is usually shown in a natural landscape, without any human figure.

The long protruding eye is a typical feature of western Indian painting. Its origin is unclear. Note the intrictate details of the artwork. 

Other visual elements 

This is a good example of an average Kalpa-sūtra manuscript. The paintings have a red background, but there are no other signs of an aesthetic object of special value.

The three red 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.