There are two separate pictures on this folio, each depicting different scenes from the life of the 22nd Jina, Neminātha or Lord Nemi, often called Ariṣṭanemi.

Left side

The caption in the upper-left corner says: Ne° janma – ‘Nemi’s birth’.

On the left, a lady is on her couch in her bedroom. It is the kṣatriya Queen Śivā, mother of Nemi. The infant Nemi is shown almost standing beside his mother. This is very unusual because normally the baby is in his mother’s arms. On the right side is a female attendant, fanning the queen with a fly-whisk.

Showing the mother and new baby in her room is the standard way to show the birth of a Jina in Kalpa-sūtra manuscripts from western India.

Right side

The caption in the top-right corner says: paśūvāḍa – ‘the pen with animals’.

On the top left is a richly dressed lady sitting in a kind of pavilion. This 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. Now he is on his way to the palace of his future in-laws for his wedding to Princess Rājīmatī.

On the bottom left is a pen holding numerous animals, which are here shown as different kinds of antelopes. Turning back to them is Prince Nemi seated in his chariot, pulled by a vigorous horse directed by a charioteer.

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.

Other visual elements

The bottom of the right-hand margin contains the number 59, which is the folio number.

The original paper has been pasted onto a new base. 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:

  • use of gold in the paintings, margins and ornamental motifs
  • decorated border with blue floral motifs
  • three diamonds filled with gold ink and surrounded by blue ornamental motifs.

The three golden diamonds along the central horizontal plane are symbolic reminders of the way in which manuscripts were bound at one time. Strings through one or more holes in the paper were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The shapes are in the places where the holes would once have been.

Three diamonds mean a verso side.


The elaborate script used is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, which is here like calligraphy. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here for Ardhamāgadhī Prakrit.

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

  • is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant, known as pṛṣṭhamātrā script
  • contains red vertical lines that mark out verse divisions, with a single line dividing a verse in two while double lines are found at the end of the verse.