7120

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    Large Jain Altarpiece

    17th-18th century
    India, probably Gujurat or Rajasthan

    width: 43.2cm, height: 39.7cm, depth: 7.4cm

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    Provenance

    UK art market

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This large and unusual Jain altarpiece comprises a copper-alloy frame with a central seated Jina in a meditative posture surrounded by 24 other Jinas all seated uniformally and cast with srivastsa symbols on their chests, two standing Jinas in the kayotsarga meditative pose, and various attendants. The arrangement of the Jinas is very geometric, and other than a canopy over the central Jina, the frame is simple and serves to emphasise rather than distract from the Jinas. All the Jinas provide clear silhouettes on account of the voids that surround each one.

    The lower plinth is decorated with elephants, tigers and fly whisk bearers.

    The array suggests that all the Jinas have gathered to hear a sermon from the central figure. Alternatively, the unusually large number of Jinas in such a stylised setting suggests the endless nature of Jainism and the wisdom of the Jinas.

    Altarpieces and plaques with larger numbers of Jinas are associated with the later period, hence a dating of 17th-18th century. It is likely the case that the donor of this piece was considered to have earned more merit because of the greater number of Jinas present in the composition.

    The piece stands freely on its own, but we have also had a custom-made stand in black made to give the structure greater stability.

    The altarpiece has minor losses and so on as might be expected but it is stable and largely complete. It has a chocolate-brown patina.

    References

    van Alphen, J., Steps to Liberation: 2,500 Years of Jain Art and Religion, Ethnographic Museum Antwerp, 2000.

    Pal, P., The Peaceful Liberators: Jain Art from India, Thames & Hudson/Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1995.

    Pal, P., Art from the Indian Subcontinent: Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, Yale University Press, 2003.

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