The caption in the upper margin says: mora vikṛyate – ‘the peacock is sold’. Note that the language of this caption is meant to be Sanskrit, not Apabhraṃśa Prakrit like the text itself, but it is incorrect.

Two men dressed in frond-skirts and conical caps face each other while holding peacocks. Behind them stands a female who is dressed similarly but also has a frond-scarf and headdress. Her breasts are not covered because she is a tribal woman. All three wear large earrings but she wears bigger earrings. The couple raise their right hands. The curving white and blue bands along the top indicate that this scene is outside.

The painting shows a peacock being sold by one tribal man to a pair of other tribal people. They probably represent the village guards mentioned in the text.

This scene shows what happens after the tribal man has killed the peahen and taken the young peacock from the forest. His wife complains that they are too poor to feed another mouth. The tribal man sells the bird for one measure of grain to a village guard.

Although peacock flesh is considered edible, out of curiosity the guard decides not to eat the young bird. Instead, he takes it home and treats it as a pet. The bird enjoys life and everybody is charmed by its dance. Seeing its beauty and liveliness, the guard thinks that it would be a good idea to offer the bird to King Yaśomati, who is very fond of games and pastimes. He brings it to the palace, which is described in the text on folio 39 verso.

The tribal men who play a significant role in the story of Yaśodhara are always depicted in the same way in this manuscript. Their costume, which is rather crude, is made of tree-leaves while they wear large earrings and a kind of conical hat. They have a dark complexion. All these features are meant to underline their crudeness, closeness to nature and difference from ‘cultivated’ people.

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

Other visual elements

This is a good example of an average manuscript. A red background is used for the painting but there is no use of gold, intricate design elements or elaborate script.

The bottom of the right margin contains the number 4, which is the folio number.

In the upper and lower margins there are syllables missing from the main text, or corrections. The number before them is the line number where they should be inserted.


The script used for the main text is the Jaina Devanāgarī script. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here Apabhraṃśa Prakrit.