Page from a Manuscript of the Kalakacharyakatha (Legend of the Teacher-Monk Kalaka)
Artist/maker unknown, Indian
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The sumptuous red ground, silver writing, and rich borders heavy in precious lapis lazuli pigment reflect the Jain devotees' practice of commissioning elaborate copies of sacred texts and donating them to monastic libraries. The more costly the pigments and the more lavish the workmanship, the greater the spiritual merit accrued by the donor. By the late fifteenth century, the appearance of these manuscripts reached a perfect balance where skilled draftsmanship was as important as costly materials. Possibly under Islamic influence, the borders and dividers in Jain illustrations evolved from simple lines into the textilelike, patterned bands seen here. Some of these borders were made even more deluxe by the addition of figures or short narrative scenes that were unrelated to the text on the page.