Folio from Kalpasutra and Kalakacharyakatha

22.3260 B (96 folios)

Folio from Kalpasutra and Kalakacharyakatha

22.3260 B (96 folios)


Script – Devanagari
Language – Pali

Among the earliest surviving illustrated paper manuscripts in India are copies of the Jain manuscripts of the Kalpasutra (Book of Ritual) and Kalakacharyakatha (the story of the renowned monk Kalaka who lived in the 1st century CE).These manuscripts were commissioned by pious laymen to donate to thebhandara (temple library) of their spiritual teacher. This practice led to the creation of many illustrated copies of the text. The pothi format of the manuscripts shows a continuation of the palm-leaf tradition. The oldest known manuscript on paper belongs to 1307 CE and is in the collection of Muni Shri Jina Vijayaji at Ahmedabad. The Kalpasutra is a canonical text of the Shvetambara (white-clad) Jains written by Acharya Bhadrabahu in the 4th century BCE. It is the biographical account of Mahavira and other Tirthankaras (spiritual teachers of the Jains), generally read and recited by devotees during their ten days of fasting known as Parushan in the month of Bhadrapada, August – September. The text of the Kalpasutra deals with panchakalyanakas, the five most auspicious events in the life of a Tirthankara – birth, lustration, renunciation, enlightenment, and nirvana (salvation).
The Kalakacharyakatha is often appended to the Kalpasutra. The style of illustration in both manuscripts is characterized by rigid and exaggerated sharpness, and the use of monochromatic colours particularly red, lapis-lazuli blue, gold, black, and white. Jain patrons of the 15th century CE preferred very opulent illustrations richly painted in gold.

A particular stylistic feature is an eye that protrudes from the face in the three-quarter profile. Attempts to explain this phenomenon include religious and metaphysical significance, but the reason may have been just technical.

Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection.


Jain Art

Object Type



Ink, opaque watercolour, and gold on paper






16th Century CE


Western India


8.6 x 30 cm