A lady is lying on an elaborate couch, under a canopy. The sun and moon appear above the bed. Under the bed are various receptacles.

The figure is Queen Triśalā. On the night Mahāvīra’s embryo was transferred to her womb, the queen was sleeping in her beautiful bedchamber, which is elaborately described in the facing text.

The sun and moon are two of the auspicious dreams.

The protruding eye is a typical feature of western Indian painting. Its origin is unclear.

Other visual elements

In many Kalpa-sūtra manuscripts, there is a clear intention to make the manuscript a valuable and remarkable object in itself. Here this is achieved in a rather modest manner. This aim is signalled by the:

  • ornamental motif in the central margin
  • calligraphic script.

The three red discs 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 discs are in the places where the holes would once have been.

This manuscript belongs to a rather early phase of Kalpa-sūtra paper manuscripts, the beginning of the 15th century. This is evidenced by the:

  • format of the paper, which is rather narrow
  • old system of folio numbering, using ‘letter-numerals’, which is visible in the left-hand margins of verso pages.

The elaborate script is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, in a form which recalls calligraphy. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here for Ardhamāgadhī Prakrit and Sanskrit.

The lines in smaller script above and below the main text and in the margins are explanations in Sanskrit of phrases found in the central part. The two small parallel lines like slanted = after the words are meant to separate the explanations in the margins. The parallel lines around words in the text indicate which words are glossed. The glosses are fairly numerous here as the text is a description with numerous elaborate epithets. In the middle margin is x cittiya x 2. This means that the Prakrit word cittiya – ‘painted’ – should be added within the text at the end of the second line from the bottom.