This is a yantra, a type of meditation aid. This one is a victory banner, which is extremely rare. It was probably produced to help gain victory in battle for the meditators. It consists of a central panel with two rows of smaller illustrations at the top and bottom. There is a heavily faded inscription in the narrow white band beneath the top row of deities.

Top row

The figures in the top row are deities, from left to right:

Second row

In the next row from the top, the focal point is the central parasol under a pot and two peacocks. This is a royal symbol. Under the parasol is a kind of column with a banner, which could be a victory pillar.

From left to right, either side of the parasol:

  • elephant
  • bull
  • horse
  • general
  • queen
  • minister
  • wheel
  • conch shell.

They probably represent the ‘jewels’ of the universal monarch – cakravartin.

Central panel

The main part of the painting consists of a grid pattern divided into quadrants by two columns crossing in the centre. These two columns include both numerals and sacred formulas or mantras. All the other tiny squares contain only numbers.

At the four cardinal points and in the centre are larger squares in blue with mystic syllables:

  • on the top, in the centre – HRĪṂ
  • in the middle – AUṂ
  • at the bottom – KRAUṂ
  • on the left – KLĪṂ
  • on the right – TTĪṂ.

Two borders of stylised flowers adorn the vertical sides.

Bottom rows

The two bottom rows contain delicate and refined paintings.

The first row has a sequence of nine figures, which are difficult to identify. They are possibly personifications of the nine treasures – nidhi – of a cakravartin.

The second row has a line of elephants and horses on the right. Both are royal animals and traditional components of an Indian army so their presence on a victory banner is not out of place. Elephants and horses are also associated with the movements of planets in Jainism. The other animals linked to planetary motion are bulls and lions.

On the left side of the second row is a chain of nine figures. They are the nine celestial elements – nava-grahas – which are frequently shown on Jain yantras. From left to right they are:

  • the sun – sūrya – a seated figure carrying two discs
  • the moon – candra
  • Mars – maṅgala
  • Mercury – budha
  • Jupiter – guru
  • Venus – śukra
  • Saturn – śani – coloured grey or black
  • Rāhu, who causes eclipses, is the easiest to recognise even though only his head appears in a chariot, which represents the movements of the moon
  • Ketu, a half-human, half-snake figure, is shown with a trident and a bird.