The caption in the upper right corner says: śoka – ‘grief’.

The scene features two ladies. The larger one on the left is elaborately dressed and has a sophisticated hairstyle. She is sitting with a rather sad expression in her eyes. Moreover, she holds one hand below her chin, which is a common method in Indian art of showing distress. Facing her, the smaller lady is trying to comfort her by putting her hand on her wrist.

This is Queen Triśalā and one of her attendants. While in the queen’s womb, Mahāvīra’s embryo does not stir, out of compassion for his mother. But she is deeply worried because she thinks that he has died. This makes her ‘fall into an ocean of sadness’, as the adjacent text says. She then keeps her eyes on the ground, depressed, resting her face on her hand.

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

Other visual elements

The original paper has been pasted onto a new base. 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:

  • use of gold in the paintings, margins and ornamental motifs
  • decorated border with blue floral motifs
  • single diamond filled with gold ink and surrounded by blue ornamental motifs.

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

A single diamond means a recto side.


The elaborate script used is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, which is here like calligraphy. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here for Ardhamāgadhī Prakrit.

There are a few notable features of this script, which:

  • is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant, known as pṛṣṭhamātrā script
  • contains red vertical lines that mark out verse divisions, with a single line dividing a verse in two while double lines are found at the end of the verse.

The number 93 in the middle of line 6 is a paragraph number.

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.