Translating Texts into Art: Specimens from the Jaina Tradition

  • Renate Söhnen-Thieme School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Keywords: Jaina literature, Jaina art, Jaina sculptures, Jaina miniature painting, manuscript illustrations, Kalpasūtra, Bhūpālastotra


This paper explores the ‘crossing of border lines’ between the textual traditions of the Jainas (oral and written) and the corresponding representations in works of art, serving also as a kind of introduction to Jaina art and its idioms for a broader public. It concentrates on three stages of pictorial representation of most eminent Jinas: it touches upon images that are possibly pre-textual (starting with sculptures from Mathurā dating back to the first centuries AD), proceeds to more narrative illustrations found in manuscripts of Bhadrabāhu’s Kalpasūtra, and concludes with a more recent specimen of the depiction of Jinas in miniature painting, as presented in a rather late illuminated version of the Bhūpālastotra, a text praising the 24 Jinas, which shows the efforts made to translate parts of the eulogies into the visual medium.


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How to Cite
Söhnen-Thieme, Renate. 2019. “Translating Texts into Art: Specimens from the Jaina Tradition”. Cracow Indological Studies 21 (2), 179-205.