This picture fills the whole page of a manuscript. A male figure offers alms to a white-robed monk standing on a low dais.

In the Digambara tradition, ascetics are naked but here the monk is wearing a white garment which recalls that of Śvetāmbara ascetics.

A Digambara monk accepts alms from lay people only once a day. This is an extremely codified ritual in which both lay people and ascetic have set roles and gestures, speaking only certain phrases.

This picture shows some of the key parts of the alms-giving ceremony. The monk stands on a slightly raised platform. He presses together the five fingers of his right hand and places the fingertips on his right shoulder. This signals to lay people that he is seeking alms.

In the other hand, he holds the only two items he is allowed to use – the water pot and the broom. The latter is normally made of peacock’s feathers. Here, rather unusually, it is made of cotton, which is the Śvetāmbara style. The broom is used to sweep the ground and seating before the monk passes or sits so that he does not accidentally kill small creatures.

The donor in this painting looks like a brahmin. He presents the food or water in a ceremonial gesture, which the monk will receive in his hands, not in a bowl.

Other visual elements

This Ādityavāravratakathā manuscript is highly decorative. There are broad floral borders at the top and bottom and either side of the main illustration. On each side of it is a panel depicting a garden with trees and flowers. Along the edges of the page and around the painting itself is a border of two or three red lines.