The caption in the top-right corner says: Pārśvapratimā – ‘image of Pārśva’.

The 23rd Jina Pārśvanātha or Lord Pārśva is easily recognisable from the snake-hoods above his head. He is seated in the lotus posture of meditation and flanked by smaller figures.

The figures on each side of the Jina are attendants and worshippers.

This is the standard representation of a Jina in the heaven where he is reborn a god before his final incarnation on earth. In that final birth, he reaches omniscience and becomes a Jina.

Pārśva has a special connection with snakes so the snake-hoods are his distinctive symbol. There are nine snake-hoods in this picture although the number varies between seven and nine.

Other visual elements

The bottom of the right margin contains the number 73. This is the folio number, in a square with two blue lines as an ornamental motif.

The original paper is slightly damaged. But, 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:

  • coloured background for the text
  • gold ink instead of the standard black ink
  • decorated border with blue floral motifs
  • three diamonds filled with gold ink, with arrow-like blue lines and surrounding blue border as ornamental motifs.

The three diamonds along the central horizontal plane are symbolic reminders of the way in which manuscripts were bound when they were on palm leaf. Strings through holes in the paper were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The diamonds are in the places where the holes would once have been.