The left-hand caption says: Trisalā śoka 15 – Triśalā’s sadness, [illustration number] 15 [in this manuscript]. The right-hand caption says: Triśalā-harṣaḥ 16 – Triśalā’s joy, [illustration number] 16 [in this manuscript].

In the left-hand picture a bejewelled woman sits on a richly ornamented throne with another, smaller female figure standing nearby. The seated woman rests her head on her hand. The illustration on the right shows a similarly dressed woman sitting on a throne, again with a smaller woman standing next to her. Peacocks roam outside the palace.

These paintings represent two episodes in the life story of Mahāvīra, the 24th Jina.

The picture on the left shows Queen Triśalā with her head on her hand in a gesture of sadness. When Triśalā was pregnant with him, the embryo Mahāvīra did not stir out of compassion for her. His mother was full of grief, thinking that he had died. A female servant waits on her.

Feeling her sorrow, Mahāvīra moved gently and Triśalā was happy again. The right-hand illustration shows her smiling once more, blooming with joy. Again, she is seen with a female attendant.

Note the intricate ornamentation of the painting. The faces are full of expression and the twin paintings have subtle symmetry.

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

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 shape and style of the script, which is close to calligraphy
  • the red background of the pictures
  • the  profusion of gold in the paintings
  • the decorated borders with blue floral arabesques
  • the three circles filled with red ink, the outer two surrounded by blue and gold ornamental motifs.

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


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

There are a few notable features of this script:

  • it is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant, known as pṛṣṭhamātrā script
  • the red vertical lines within the text divide the long sentences into smaller parts, but are not necessarily punctuation marks.