Jain Devotional Image of Padmaprabha - 17th-century Indian manuscript painting

An original 17th-century watercolour painting, Jain Indian Devotional Image of Padmaprabha.

An exquisite, intensely colourful Jain devotional image, probably made in Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India, in the late seventeenth century. The seated figure is the spiritual teacher Padmaprabha (whose name means 'lotus-bright'), who is identified by his red colour, and the lotus flower at his feet. One of the devotees by Padmaprabha's side is holding a Chowrie or fly-whisk: in Buddhist and Jain art this is often used as a symbol of the need to swish away troubling mental afflictions and delusive thoughts. Laid down on blue backing paper.

Unsigned. Inscribed on verso of backing paper with what appears to be an historic accession number: '75.429'.
While much of the painted surface is surprisingly bright, given its probable age, there are holes in the paper and other paint losses, as shown.
14.3cm x 9.7cm.

This is one of a pair of paintings that we have on offer, which are associated with the Indian religion of Jainism. In medieval India, Jain ascetics and scholars wrote thousands of manuscripts (originally on palm leaves, and then later on paper) related to their sacred text, and many of these are accompanied by colourful miniature paintings. Both of our pictures show seated tirthankaras, flanked by devotees. In Jainism tirthankaras (the name comes from the Sanskrit for ‘ford-maker’) are spiritual teachers who have succeeded in crossing over life’s stream of rebirths, and have made a path for others to follow. Traditionally, each tirthankara can be individually identified by their skin colour, and the emblems that they are associated with: here an elephant and a lotus flower.

Over the centuries, Jain painting has influenced many other branches of Indian art. What is noticeable in our examples is the intensity of the colours that are used, and their striking combinations: in Jain art the colours were made especially from vegetables, from minerals, and even from gold and silver.

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Product code: JJ-109

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