Rare Jain Brass Image of the Arihant Bahubali
Miniature cast bronze or brass representations of Bahubali are rare.
This cast brass image of Bahubali shows the Jain hero standing on a tall, circular platform in the usual pose, erect and with both arms straight down the sides. Leafy vines have grown up both legs and over both arms and his back. The image has been cast with a waist band and a necklace.
Puja or ritual prayer wear is evident: generally, the images contours have been softened from handling and this is most evident about the head and face.
The use of brass; the elongated, columnar form; geometric configuration; the broad face with wide eyes; and the tall, waisted pedestal are similar to Hindu bronze forms associated with Bengal and Orissa. But such forms also are associated with Jain bronzes from Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Bahubali, a princely figure, renounced violence after a brutal fight with his brother Bharata over the spoils of their father’s kingdom. He attained
moksa following protracted standing meditation in a forest, where he stood still and silently for so many years, that vines grew up and around his body. Technically, he is not considered a Jina but many Jains, particularly the Digambara Jains of South India, worship him as if he is one. See Guy (2007, p. 115) for an illustration of a later brass image of Bahubali in the Victoria & Albert Museum. One of India’s largest single images is of Bahubali, cut from rock, at Sravana Belgola, Kartnataka. The image stands more than 17 metres high.
Guy, J., Indian Temple Sculpture, V&A Publications, 2007.
Indian Sculpture, Volume 2 – 700-1800, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988.
The Peaceful Liberators: Jain Art from India, Thames & Hudson/Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1995.
UK private collection/UK art market
Inventory no.: 1997