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Scenes from the Life of the Jina Parshvanatha

c. 1450-1475
Artist/maker unknown, Indian

This painting depicts the life story of the jina Parshvanatha, one of the twenty-four savior saints of the Jain religion. Jinas are human beings who have perfected themselves over many lifetimes by practicing self-denial, helping others, and inflicting no harm on any living creature. At the center of this composition, Parshvanatha stands meditating in a lotus pool, sheltered from above by a thousand-hooded cobra.

The cobra refers to an incident in which the serpent king, Dharanendra, used his hoods to shelter Parshvanatha from a terrible rainstorm sent to break his concentration. Other scenes from the jina’s life unfold in the surrounding panels, while larger female attendants, some of whom are cobra-topped to indicate that they are the wives of the snake king, fill the panels to either side. Such large-scale paintings were intended for devotion and meditation.

Object Details

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