The caption in the top-right corner says: khāmaṇāṃ – ‘forgiveness’.

At the top level in this illustration, three ascetics are shown. The smallest figure kneels at the feet of the largest, who sits on a cushioned seat. The biggest monk holds his hand above the middle monk’s head, who is folding his hands. Above them is the sthāpanācārya. The third monk stands on the right side.

The lower level again features three monks. Seated on a cushioned seat, the biggest figure gently rests his hand on the smallest monk’s head. The mendicant in the centre raises his hands as he sits on his haunches. The third figure also has raised hands but his palms face outwards instead of inwards.

The two scenes are probably to be read as a sequence, with the relative size of the figures indicating their seniority. In both scenes, the junior monk is the smallest figure. He kneels down, with hands folded, asking forgiveness from his teacher. The teacher sits on a higher seat and is much larger.

In the lower scene, the teacher places his hand on the junior monk’s head, signalling forgiveness, while the junior monk folds his hands in a gesture of thankfulness. The role played by the third mendicant is not fully clear, but his gesture is that of conciliation and making peace.

Other visual elements

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
  • diamond filled with gold ink, with ornamental blue border.

The diamond in the centre is a symbolic reminder 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 diamond is in one of the places where the holes would once have been.