A large white figure sits on a throne in a multi-domed temple structure, two flags flying from the central dome. Sitting in the lotus posture of meditation, he wears an intricate headdress and jewellery. There are lamps on his left and right sides while above him are small bells. Above his head is a kind of double-ended lotus stalk, which is an ornament and probable symbol of purity.

He is flanked by a male figure on the left and a figure on the right who could be female. Standing under bells, they have hands folded in a gesture of homage and respect.

Below, on the right, a man squats to grind something. Squatting opposite him is another figure swathed in cloths. On the left and right three women climb steps.

Thus this lively painting features two scenes in one, namely the:

  • interior of a temple
  • landscape surrounding the temple, depicted through the sky and trees.

Inside the main cella of the temple a Jina is enthroned, and being worshipped. This Jina cannot be identified for sure, in the absence of any identifying emblem. His identification as Mahāvīra, the 24th Jina, cannot be more than a guess. The throne is where the emblem is usually found but here it is filled with only decorative motifs.

The figures on the Jina’s left and right sides are lay devotees worshipping him. Their dark complexion is noteworthy. It might be a way to show that people from all social backgrounds join in Jina worship because dark skin is associated with lower castes in India. They hold pieces of cloth in front of their mouths, out of respect for the Jina. The small bells above them are used in ceremonies of worship, when devotees strike them with their hands.

Outside, two ladies are climbing steps leading to the sanctuary, to join the other devotees. The third one is delicately wiping the ground with the cotton broomrajoharaṇa – used in this way by lay devotees among the sect of the Śvetāmbaras.

Beneath them the squatting man with an uncovered torso and a plait is a temple servantpujārī – who is usually a Jain Brahmin. His job is to prepare ingredients for worship and to clean the temple and images. Here he is shown grinding something, probably sandalwood powder, as an ingredient of worship. The squatting man on the left is likely to also be a temple servant. He wears a piece of cloth over his mouth, which means that he is going to approach the Jina image or has just arrived after worshipping or cleaning it. The pujārī normally has his mouth covered when he cleans or decorates the Jina image.

The painter does not use perspective, but does represent the journey through the landscape to the temple and then inside. The temple court, where the temple attendants are working, is presented first, followed by the interior of the temple.

Other visual elements

This is a full-page painting. The elaborate floral border of the picture underscores the decorative nature of the image.