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Harinegameshin Transfers Mahavira's Embryo
Page from a dispersed manuscript of the Kalpasutra (Story of the Jina Mahavira)

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Gujarat, India, Asia
or Rajasthan, India, Asia

Medieval Period (c. 600 - c. 1300)

c. 1300-1350

Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on palm leaf

Sheet: 2 1/16 × 12 3/4 inches (5.2 × 32.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with the Stella Kramrisch Fund and with funds contributed by the Committee on Indian and Himalayan Art in honor of Alvin O. Bellak, 2001

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Many of the earliest illustrated palm leaf books were commissioned by devotees of Jainism, one of India's most ancient spiritual traditions. Like this page of a Jain Kalpasutra, the text on both Jain palm leaf and later Jain paper manuscripts runs continuously from the far left of each page, interrupted periodically by standardized illustrations of important scenes. Each page has a central bordered area with a demarcated hole in the middle. Through this hole would have run a string that tied the pages together and wrapped around the long wooden covers. To read the book, the string would be loosened and each page flipped horizontally in turn. Thus the backs of the pages are written upside down.