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Pilgramage to a Jain Shrine

c. 1850
Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Pilgrimage—particularly to places associated with the lives of jinas (enlightened beings)—is a crucial part of Jain worship. This wonderfully detailed painting depicts various aspects of a pilgrimage. Large groups, including both lay worshipers and white-robed monks and nuns, travel together through the landscape to visit a large temple of the twenty-third jina-Parshvanatha—who is the central figure of the three images. Parshvanatha is identifiable by the cobra hoods above his head and the snake below him. To his left and right are the sixteenth jina, Shantinatha (shown with an antelope below), and the first jina, Rishabhanatha (with a bull below). The images have been garlanded, and in front of the shrine lay worshipers celebrate the jinas with dance and music.

Many smaller temples dot the landscape, a number of them enshrining the footprints of jinas and other enlightened beings. The concentration of shrines indicates that this painting represents one of the main pilgrimage sites of Jainism, although the lack of an inscription makes exact identification impossible. Along the lower margin marches a festive procession, with those on the right focusing on a monk-teacher (acharya) whose importance is emphasized by the umbrella-like standard held above his head.

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Object Details

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