May 16, 2011

Identifying Jainism in Indian Art Video

Lecture by John Guy, Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art, Department of Asian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The art of the book in medieval India is closely associated with the Jain religious community, and illustrated palm-leaf manuscripts survive from around the tenth century, while those on paper appear after the twelfth, when paper was introduced from Iran. The use of paper permitted larger compositions and a greater variety of decorative devices and borders. Significantly, however, the format of the palm-leaf manuscript was retained. By the end of the fourteenth century, deluxe manuscripts were produced on paper, brilliantly adorned with gold, silver, crimson, and a rich ultramarine derived from imported lapis lazuli. The patrons of the works were mainly Svetambara Jains, who considered the commissioning of illustrated books and their donation to Jain temple libraries to be an important merit-making activity. A selection of these exquisite manuscripts will be on view, along with bronzes sculptures of Jinas and a ceremonial painted textile.



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