The Grammar of Jina Iconography I (Part 2)

Posted: 01.09.2011
Updated on: 02.07.2015

The following article by Prof. Klaus Bruhn was published in Berliner Indologische Studien No. 8. 1995, pp. 229-283. PLEASE NOTE: The printed version of this article contains some photos which were currently not available for the online publication but will be added as soon as possible.


The Grammar of Jina Iconography I (Part 2)


§§ 1-8 ►The Grammar of Jina Iconography I (Part 1)


§ 8. Two systems of differentiation. System B

The departure from the separate treatment of each individual Jina (§ 10) forces us to adopt a line which distinguishes two systems of differentiation from one another, designating them as "A" and "B" respectively. We have reserved the letter "A" for the basic system which is the system of the twenty-four Jina.s. Their names appear for the first time in the Paryuṣaṇākalpasūtra which we assign to the Kuṣāṇa age (but see Dhaky Nā: 37 for recent chronological research). The names of several Jina.s also appear in Kuṣāṇa inscriptions (Jina.s nos. 1, 3, 20, 22, 23, 24, see JRM: 82 and our Parts II-III). However, apart from the inscriptions, we have no indications of System A in Jaina art before the end of Period II or before the beginnings of Period III. In other words the system starts only in "post-Gupta" times. The basic vehicle of identification in System A are the twenty-four cihna.s, either alone or in combination with other criteria. As will be seen in § 9, the analysis of System A does not take us back to the old approach (twenty-four separate Jina.s), but is part of the new procedure. According to System B, the subject of the present section, we have to distinguish between Ṛṣabha.s, Pārśva.s, and the remaining twenty-two Jina.s ("non--non-P"). The mere distinction between Pārśva.s and non-Pārśva.s (beginnings of Jaina art, Jaina art of Tamil Nadu) will likewise come under the heading of System B.

In the discussion of the Kuṣāṇa images of our Period II, we distinguish between a "first" and a "second" sequence in the usual way, but we refer the reader to the fresh examination of the theory of two sequences by J. Williams (Williams Om). We have reduced in our scheme the complexities of Kuṣāṇa chronology to a single figure (AD. 100) which is derived from G. von Mitterwallner's thesis (Kanika year 1 = soon after AD. 143).

As a rule, āyāgapaṭṭa.s with Jina figures have a non-Pārśva in their centre, but one āyāgapaṭṭa has a figure of Pārśva in the corresponding position (Joshi Ea: pl. 34.1). On this slab, Pārśva is shown with seven cobra-hoods which is the standard form of Northern India (Joshi Ea: 335b). The first object which shows Pārśva and non-Pārśva.s side by side is the dated Kaa slab (Mitterwallner Fr, pl. 24: Kaa śramao) with four Jina.s, J-J-P-J, in its upper register. Independent Pārśva images surface likewise in the first sequence, or even earlier (Mitterwallner Sc: 92). It would thus appear that, at least by the time of the first sequence of Kuṣāṇa art, the Pārśva/non-Pārśva opposition is fully established.

The second sequence introduces a new type of icon, the so-called sarvato-bhadrikā-pratimā.s (Mitterwallner Fr: 42-45, Williams Om: 328b). For the first time these icons ("caturmukha.s") show the triad of Ṛṣabha, Pārśva, and non--non-P, although not every icon shows all three cases together (see Joshi Ea: 354-55 and 366 for details). All caturmukha Jina.s are standing, and seated caturmukha Jina.s surface only after the Gupta period (fig. 7). Ṛṣabha is distinguished here from the non-Ṛṣabha.s by his strands (details below), a feature which finds its earliest literary pendant in a short reference of the Paryuṣaṇākalpasūtra (Jacobi Ka: p. 75, lines 2-3; JRM: 87, 113; Parts II-III). Ṛṣabha's hair-style - like the caturmukha concept clearly derived from Śiva iconography (Kreisel Śi: figs. 69a-c, fig. 87) - must have given rise to the relevant episode in the Ṛṣabha legend, which was required for the explanation of the strands. The distinction between the hair-styles of Ṛṣabha.s and non-Ṛṣabha.s, which was practised from this moment onwards, later became a matter of considerable importance. Although this distinction was standardized right from the beginning, it produced in the course of time many instances of the general tendency to characterize the Jina.s only in a quasi-systematic manner.

Little can be said about the origins of the hair-styles of the Jina.s. The hair-styles of the miniature Jina.s must be examined in the collections. Otherwise, non-Ṛṣabha.s show the three well-known formulas ("plain skull", "notched hair", and "snail-shell curls"). However, non-Ṛṣabha.s on caturmukha.s only have notched hair or snail-shell curls (Williams Om: 328b, Joshi Ea: 363-64). The curl formula obviously started only in the second sequence (Williams Om passim). Ṛṣabha has strands as mentioned above and as found with several caturmukha Ṛṣabha.s (a: Mitterwallner Fr: 42 and pl. 23 = Mosteller Fo: pl. 54; b: Joshi Ma: pl. 41 = Mosteller Fo: pl. 71; Mosteller Fo: pl. 39). We have to mention that the former Ṛṣabha (a) only has "hair combed back", while the latter Ṛṣabha.s (b) have, in addition to that, "hair/strands falling on Ṛṣabha's shoulders". The artist of (a) possibly hesitated to copy the fully developed form of the Śaiva hair-style. Later, up to Period III, the "hair/strands falling on the shoulders" (=lateral strands) were compulsory in connection with strands on the head. An irregular form of the hair is found with a caturmukha published by H. Plaeschke (Plaeschke Fr: pl. 98). Independent Kuṣāṇa statues of Ṛṣabha have not come to light. - Refer for a catalogue of the "varieties of hair arrangements" to Joshi Ea: 340 and for a caturmukha catalogue to Joshi Ea: 366 (28 pieces). The literature concerned with caturmukha.s demonstrates in a striking manner the problems created by inadequate illustration.

In the intermediate period (Period III), the old strands have survived and form what we call hair-style "Type I” (fig. 3). Moreover, an early offshoot of Type I (fig. 5) becomes fairly prominent. This will be called "Type Ia", but it is not included in our threefold typology. Besides these two cases we notice two true innovations, i.e. "Type II" and "Type III". The former type has the hair-style shown in fig. 7, which turns out to be a hybrid motif with a protean morphology. In this Type II we notice mainly two elements i.e. the fish-bone pattern or "V-pattern" and the tripartite shape. The V-pattern stands for the parting of the hair (or rather parting of the strands), while the tripartite shape is due to the inclusion of the uṣṇīṣa in the hair-style (shape of the head). We refer for the parting of the strands to fig. 5 and for the development of the new shape with integrated uṣṇīṣa to fig. 6 (head of a Buddha). Heads of Buddha.s and Jina.s with curls develop on similar lines and help to explain the form of the strands in Type II. The uṣṇīṣa surfaces in Jaina art for the first time in the Gupta period (Mitterwallner Sc: 93, compare for example Mitterwallner Pa, pl. 131: Kahaum). The later development of Type II (see fig. 8 and the discussion of the Deogarh Jina.s on pp. 254-56 below) was determined by processes of diversification and assimilation. Some images are clear examples of Type II although they do not show strict conformity with our definition. Besides, we notice in Northern India here and there instances of Type II which are not covered by our definition but seem to have an identity of their own (at least one formula). Rather than ignoring these deviations we would like to speak in such cases of "Type IIa" (Shah Ak: pl. 31a etc., EIB: figs. 3-4). For a study of Type IIa we refer the reader also to Williams Gu: pl. 57 (head of a Buddha) and JID: fig. 82 (head of a Jina). The second innovation of the intermediate period is Type III. This is the jaṭā, which is mostly "tall" (or even elaborated into a jaṭā-mukua) and only in rare cases "flat". See fig. 9 (and Asher Ea: pl. 182) for the tall and fig. 10 (as well as JRM: fig. 34) for the flat jaṭā. Refer for Type III also to the text describing fig. 10.

The combination of "lateral strands" with "snail-shell curls" or simply "curls" (EIB: fig. 17, Shah Ak: pl. 8a-b) is not merely a morphological but also a semantic issue. It is the first stage in the shift of emphasis from the "hair on the head" to the separate motif of the "lateral strands" as the vehicle of characterization. The lateral strands, present in the case of Ṛṣabha.s and absent in the case of non-Ṛṣabha.s, begin to distinguish Jina no. 1 from Jina.s nos. 2-24. It appears, however, that in the Intermediate Period the three forms of strands are still combined with lateral strands wherever they occur. As a consequence, we have in the Intermediate Period only five cases in all, i.e. Types I-III with lateral strands, and curls with and without lateral strands. The opposition is still restricted to the last case.

In Period IV, we not only find the curls but also Types I-III with and without lateral strands, and this is the second step in the neutralization of the "hair on the head", which started with the curls. This second step makes the situation complicated, and now we have to prove that the presence of the lateral strands stands for Ṛṣabha and their absence for non-Ṛṣabha.s - this rule being valid for Central and Western India in the early medieval period. We will use the following two arguments: (i) Ignoring atypical cases of one type or another we do not find Pārśva images with lateral strands, and the artists had no reason to exclude Pārśva from lateral strands, if the other non-Ṛṣabha.s were not likewise excluded from lateral strands. Thus the lateral strands stand for Ṛṣabha. (ii) Ignoring again atypical cases, there is no indication in the form of external evidence (cihna etc.) that any Jina without lateral strands was ever meant to represent Ṛṣabha. This leads to the same conclusion. However, the material is inconsistent, and definitive arguments cannot be proposed.

We now supply examples for curls as well as for Types I-III with and without lateral strands, eight cases in all: Bruhn Id: fig. 8 and JID: fig. 8 (curls); PJA: fig. 143 [JID: fig. 81?] and fig. 4 (Type I); JID: figs. 95 and 93 (Type II); Shah Ak: pls. 30a [p. 41] and 31a (Type IIa); Bruhn Id: figs. 3 and 4 (Type III). The tabulation with eight cases, some very common, some rare, has been developed on the basis of the Deogarh material, but it can be used as a general matrix for the study of Northern Indian Jina images. Eastern India has as a rule only the opposition between Type III with lateral strands (Ṛṣabha) and curls without lateral strands (non-Ṛṣabha.s).

It is now necessary to describe the situation in selected areas (Gwalior/Deogarh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka) in more detail, although even there we cannot give a complete account which covers all the forms of the hair motif. It must be added that the exclusion of the remaining area is also an exclusion of three major groups, i.e. of the Navamuni, Bārabhujī, and Triśūla Caves of the Khaṇḍagiri Hill, of the Jaina caves at Ellora, and of the Western Indian bronzes.

From the point of view of iconography, Gwalior and Deogarh are places of special importance, Gwalior as a comparatively early Jaina site in Northern India, and Deogarh as a place with very intensive artistic activities over a period of about three hundred years. In particular, Deogarh shows great variation in the rendering of the hair-styles of the early-medieval Jina.s and it thus becomes a suitable basis for the exposition of the hair-style in Period IV in Central India.

We date the early Jaina art of Gwalior, mainly rock-cut, to AD 750-850. The Gwalior Jina.s mostly show strands (Type II, see Chakravarty Gw: 61, our figs. 11 and 15), and these strands are probably always combined with lateral strands.

In the case of Deogarh and Central India generally, the distinction between early-medieval (850-950) and medieval (950-1150) is of more importance than elsewhere in Northern India.

The statistical analysis of the early-medieval material at Deogarh has already been given on pp. 157-58 of Bruhn Id. In the context of the present discussion, we have to stress that curls with lateral strands occur but once (JID: fig. 187), that Type I is found only twice and both times without lateral strands (one Pārśva and one non-Pārśva: Bruhn Id, figs. 1-2), and that Type III is found frequently but only twice without lateral strands (JID: figs. 112 and 135) and never in connection with Pārśva. Variation in Type III is demonstrated by JID: figs. 97 (flat jaṭā) and 86 (also "flat jaṭā", but strictly speaking "intermediate jaṭā": see our text for fig. 10). Type II appears in more than one form and mostly without lateral strands (JID: figs. 95, 108, 165, 167 [one Pārśva, one non-Pārśva]). Our fig. 8 shows an advanced stylization of the hair which is reminiscent of some Deogarh Jina.s of Type II, although close parallels are not to be found.

We have classified an image with faint jaṭā affinity as Type III and not as Type II (JID: fig. 112). Without entering into details, we have to mention that our Types I-III correspond respectively to the "unplaited strands", the "smooth jaṭā", and the "hybrid jaṭā" of JID (§ 129). Some images are irregular (JID: figs. 44, 80, 81 [two images], 82, 137). With the exception of the image of JID: fig. 137, all these irregular images belong to the so-called Uncouth Class (JID: §§ 99-106). The treatment of the hair-styles in JID (§§ 128-33: so-called Drum-Style) shows that the basic classification for the Deogarh hair-styles should have been outlined before the hair-styles were described as elements of the relevant classes of images. The hair-styles of the Uncouth Class of the Drum-Style should have received special attention (JID: 503-04; Images Nos. 22-56). Finally, all more or less irregular forms should have been discussed separately but with reference to the threefold classification.

Distant relatives of the rock-cut Gwalior Jina.s are the Jina.s in the outer niches of Deogarh Temple No. 15 (JID: figs. 156-61). It seems that there is also similarity in the hair-styles (curls and Type II).

The situation changes in the medieval period. The hair on the head always consists of curls, and Types I-III have disappeared; cihna.s have become much more common than in the early-medieval period so that we have additional possibilities of identification; finally the lateral strands lose their significance and seem to be used according to ephemeral workshop conventions if not at random (JID, fig. 211: Candraprabha with lateral strands). Still, one gets the impression that, to some extent at least, the artists remembered the old rules, since Jina.s with bull cihna.s invariably show lateral strands.

What has been said about the early-medieval Jina images at Deogarh applies on the whole also to a wider area and possibly to Central India in general. Generally speaking, a systematic survey of the early-medieval Jaina art of Central India is a desideratum. The medieval period is the period of uniformity. Here the specialist may feel that different places have a slightly different physiognomy, but the actual differences, including differences of the type just discussed, are minimal.

The situation in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka (Period IV) can be described in a few words. The artists of Tamil Nadu have only made a distinction between Pārśva.s (five snake-hoods) and non-Pārśva.s. Moreover we find side by side "snail-shell curls" and "plain skull" without noticing any semantic significance. The plain skull must be derived from the corresponding Kuṣāṇa/Gupta formula (e.g. compare Williams Gu, pl. 30: Kanoria Pārśvanātha). The indication of the uṣṇīṣa seems to be restricted to early or fairly early images (smooth skull: PJA, figs. 36, 43; curls: PJA, figs. 196-97). In most cases the artists represented the skull as perfectly regular (PJA: fig. 63 et passim), as if to avoid the slightest indication of an uṣṇīṣa. In Karnataka, we find only curls. The lateral strands are shown without discrimination, e.g. with Pārśva (PJA figs. 209-10, 271), so that we do not know whether this element had any function at all. In some cases the head is perfectly regular (PJA: fig. 271), while in other cases we notice a faint indication of the uṣṇīṣa (PJA: fig. 277). Pārśva is always shown with seven snake-hoods.

The expression "System B" primarily refers to the trichotomy discussed above. However, there are forms of distinction outside the 24-Jina pattern of System A which can likewise be treated as parts of System B ("extension of System B"). The peculiar rendering of the relevant Jina.s (Supārśva, Malli, Munisuvrata, Nemi: Nos. 7-19-20-22) is not homogeneous, but a combined discussion cannot be avoided (see Parts II-III). Our treatment of Pārśva has not considered the various peculiarities in the iconography of this Jina but only the general opposition between Pārśva.s and non-Pārśva.s. The proper treatment of Pārśva will follow in Parts II-III.


§ 9. System A

System A - 24 Jina.s, 24 cihna.s, 24 yakṣa.s, and 24 yakṣī.s - is a model of lucidity but at the same time an example of blatant disagreement between images and texts. Even then, "A" is a true system, while "B" is the product of iconographic growth. The first cihna.s surface in the Gupta period. The yakṣa.s and yakṣī.s (see Parts II-III) appear here and there in Period IV, but in reality they never attain the form and status which was prescribed by the texts. The relevant lists (names of the Jina.s etc.) will be found in Tiwari El, and in Glasenapp Jn. We discuss in this paper only the cihna.s, which have certainly not always been employed systematically but which have at least been treated by the artists with more deliberation than the yakṣa.s and yakṣī.s.

As U.P. Shah noticed for the first time, the early cihna.s were double cihna.s (Period II through beginning of Period IV). The first list of the cihna.s is found in the Trilokaprajñapti of the Digambara tradition, a work of uncertain date (Upadhye Ti, p. 7: probably between AD. 473 and 609). In other words, we do not know whether the cihna list already existed in the Gupta and Post-Gupta periods. Moreover, the early cihna.s were not very specific: bull, elephant, conch-shell, and "lion pure and simple" were almost as familiar as the lions of the lion-throne and the antelopes of the Sarnath motif. Only a list of pedestal formulas prepared on the basis of Asher Ea and other publications can give a fairly adequate idea of the situation (animal motifs and conch in italic type):

  • lion, Jina, conch, dharmacakra-with-cakrapurua, conch, Jina, lion (pl. 15);
  • elephant, dharmacakra, elephant (pl. 16: Pārśva, Son Bhandar Cave);
  • lion, dharmacakra, lion (pl. 16);
  • lion, conch, dharmacakra, conch, lion (pls. 80 and 81);
  • adorant, antelope, dharmacakra, antelope, adorant (pl. 181);
  • bull, dharmacakra, bull (pl. 182);
  • conch, dharmacakra, conch (pl. 183);
  • adorant, bull, dharmacakra (?), bull, adorant (pl. 201);
  • lion, dharmacakra, lion (JAA: pl. 62);
  • bull, adorant, dharmacakra, adorant, bull (JAA: pl. 63);
  • Jina, lion, dharmacakra, lion, Jina (Shah Ev, fig. 5: Mahāvīra from Sarnath);
  • lion, Jina, dharmacakra, Jina, lion (Shah Ev: fig. 6);
  • bull, dharmacakra, bull (JRM, fig. 34: Ṛṣabha from Vasantagadh);
  • elephant, dharmacakra, elephant (Shah Ak, pl. 41b: Akota);
  • elephant, lotus stalk, elephant (Sharma Lu: fig. 11);
  • lion, conch, dharmacakra, conch, lion (Tiwari Pā: fig. 109);
  • conch, dharmacakra, conch (Tiwari Pā, fig. 110: Supārśva, Vaibhara Hill);
  • lion (mask), Jina, dharmacakra, Jina, lion (mask); JID: fig. 21.

The list is not a complete catalogue of the pedestal formulas of a specific period but has been prepared in order to demonstrate the ambiance of the double cihna.s. Only two instances of double cihna.s are known from Western India (→Vasantagadh supra, and → Akota supra).

Apart from the affinity to old double motifs, the double cihna.s are beset with other complexities. Besides the Son Bhandar Pārśva (supra) and the Pāla Supārśva (supra), M.N.P. Tiwari mentions in his discussion of irregular cihna.s two Pārśva.s with elephant and lion - obviously with double-elephant and double-lion - as cihna.s (Tiwari Pā: 470, lines 14-17). Moreover, at some point of time, the new cihna set of the final list makes itself felt, and this produces a period of transition. Broadly speaking, the "list" seems to initiate the new phase where the cihna.s appear singly, but there are also cihna.s which already belong to the new repertoire but are still doubled. A caturmukha in the Bharat Kala Bhavan (JRM: fig. 33) has on one side "elephant, dharmacakra, elephant." Sufficient information about the other three sides is not given, but the four double cihna.s have included at least one cihna which does not belong to the old "tetrad" of bull, elephant, conch, lion (JRM: 326). On the whole, the evolution of the cihna.s was more organic than the evolution of the hair-styles, but even then true continuity is not noticed, and the caturmukha in the Bharat Kala Bhavan can be mentioned as a specimen of the Intermediate Period, a period of uncertainties. A later caturmukha from Rajgir (Tiwari Pā, p. 468; pl. 105; JRM: fig. 58) has in fact the double cihna.s bull, elephant, horse, monkey for the Jina.s nos. 1-4 (Ṛṣabha, Ajita, Sambhava, Abhinandana), and here the impact of the final cihna list is indisputable.

A historical analysis of the initial situation with cihna.s and non-cihna.s both appearing twice will perhaps never be possible. But if we ignore the Pārśva/Supārśva irregularities, we come to the following rules. Bull, elephant, and conch are invariably cihna.s, the antelope is invariably a general motif, the lions are in one case (Mahāvīra from Sarnath) a cihna but otherwise a general motif. Further motifs (horse etc.) reflect the final list. It is only with the introduction of this list that the intrinsic ambiguities (cihna.s against general motifs) are gradually eliminated.

Our suggestion that the double cihna.s are linked with an archaic triad or tetrad (bull etc.) which preceded the final list is a working hypothesis which must be corroborated by further evidence. That the popularity of the old tetrad (cihna.s doubled or not) continued even after the time of the implementation of the final list is not central to the present discussion.

The triple lion of Tamil Nadu (PJA: fig. 57) is a general motif which can be traced back to the time of the Katra Buddha and which became the standard in Tamil Nadu. As a consequence it is impossible to identify the central lion with the lion cihna of Mahāvīra.

The study of the single cihna (Period II, III, early-medieval phase of Period IV) has to consider images of widely different character including many instances of cihna irregularities. Moreover, evidence is no longer concentrated in Eastern India, Central India being by now fully integrated into the "cihna movement".

We start with the irregularities. The two Ṛṣabha bronzes from Chausa (EIB: figs. 3-4) each have a crescent at the top which must be read as the cihna of Candraprabha, i.e. as a wrong cihna. JRM: fig. 52 shows Neminātha with the pedestal formula "conch, female figure, cakra". The formula is irregular but useful evidence of the special iconography of Neminātha (extension of System B, see p. 256). A Deogarh Jina with a hair-style of Type II and no lateral strands has the bull cihna (Bruhn An: fn. 17). Several irregularities are connected with the antelope cihna, i.e. with the cihna of Śāntinātha (no. 16).

  1. A Ṛṣabha bronze from Bihar (fig. 3) clearly has a single antelope on its pedestal.
  2. A very complex Ṛṣabha image from Mathura (JRM: fig. 55, Tiwari Ba: fig. 4) has the formula "lion, bull/adorant, dharmacakra, antelope/ adorant, lion".
  3. A Deogarh Jina (JID: fig. 114) shows the pedestal formula "lion (free space) antelope"; the pedestal portion is not visible in our illustration.
  4. A caturmukha at Deogarh (JID: fig. 265) has on one side "antelope, antelope" and on the adjoining side (to the right) "lion, dharmacakra, lion". The two Jina.s show "curls without lateral strands" and "hair-style Type II without lateral strands" respectively.
  5. A Supārśva image from Orissa (Mohapatra Or: fig. 96) has an antelope to the left of the viśvapadma on which the Jina stands.

In Western India, irregularities possibly existed, but at this stage we hardly have any evidence of cihna.s at all. A Śvetāmbara bronze from Lilvadeva shows Ṛṣabha with an unexplained "lion symbol" on its pedestal (Rao Li: pl. 10, fig. 1). A Digambara bronze of unknown origin demonstrates careless handling of the cihna issue which of course points to a part of Northern India where the cihna.s were not yet established (Shah Sw: fig. 53).

Correct cihna.s are the rule in Pāla art at least since the ninth century (Bhattacharyya Pa, Khandalavala Pa). The idea of the cihna received additional emphasis through caturviṃśatipaṭṭa.s (fig. 17 below) and serial representations of the twenty-four Jina.s, cihna.s included (three Khaṇḍagiri caves). In Central India, cihna.s are still comparatively rare in this period. We mention the bull (fig. 16: Ṛṣabha from Orai), the elephant (JID: fig. 144), the crescent (Chandra Al, fig. 406: Candraprabha from Kauśāmbi), the fish (JAApl. 80A: Suvidhi from Śrāvastī), the boar (JRM, fig. 51: Vimala from Sarnath), and the antelope (JID: fig. 146).

In the medieval period, cihna.s are frequently found not only in Eastern India, but also in Central India. At Deogarh, we not only find many images with cihna.s (JID, fig. 194: lion; fig. 202A: elephant) but also a caturviṃśati-composition with individual cihna.s as known from Eastern India (two slabs with 12 plus 12 Jina.s; see Parts II-III). Rajasthan has produced several Śvetāmbara images with cihna.s, all stylistically related to one another (JRM: fig. 107; JAA pls. 336B, 358A 358B). In Western India, bronzes and stone images with cihna.s surface at a comparatively late date. We find for example in the 12th century a few bronzes with cihna.s in a tolerable execution (Pal Cy II, fig. 62: AD 1121; Joshi Lu, pl. 2: AD 1168). Later cihna.s are carefully drawn and occupy a fixed place in the composition, mostly a small panel in the centre of the cushion (Pal Le: 55, Nawab Jn: fig. 53 etc.). In Tamil Nadu, cihna.s are not found in any period. In Karnataka cihna.s are mainly demonstrated by the twenty-four Jina.s in the Bhandara Basti at Shravana Belgola built in 1159 (Settar Śr: 61-63).

Generally speaking, the contribution of Eastern India to Jina iconography deserves more attention than it has received hitherto. The tall jaṭā (along with the jaṭāmukuṭa), the twenty-four cihna.s and the systematic representation of all twenty-four Jina.s appeared in Eastern India for the first time. From there, some of these iconographic concepts spread to Central India or even up to Western India.

Unidentified Jina.s form a general problem, in spite of regional differences. Although we normally find a large proportion of Ṛṣabha and Pārśva images, and although non-Ṛ-non-P Jina.s may have cihna.s or inscriptions with the names of the Jina.s, many Jina.s are left without identity. The psychology of the creation of nameless Jina.s, which are to a large extent individual images made at the instigation of private donors, is a mystery. In Jaina hymnology and ritualistic literature the emphasis is on the individual Jina rather than on the abstract category of the twenty-four Jina.s. At Deogarh, some unidentified Jina.s have recently been provided with cihna.s by the local Temple Committee - an indication of a continuous trend towards "Jina.s with identity" which started in the medieval period. The riddle of the nameless Jina.s of earlier times thus remains unsolved.

It has to be added that the popularity of caturmukha.s and more particularly tritīrthika-images has produced an abstract tendency in Jaina iconography. A good caturmukha should have the formula "1 x R, 1 x P, 2 x non--non-P", but this formula is not the rule (Joshi Ea: 366). A caturmukha from Jadhina even has four Ṛṣabha.s (Tiwari Sa: fig. 3 = JAA- pl. 357B). Whereas caturmukha.s could at least in principle be used in agreement with the traditional list of twenty-four Jina.s (e.g. representation of four consecutive Jina.s), the matter is different in the case of the tritīrthika-images. The number three and the hierarchical element (lateral Jina.s smaller than the main Jina) make convincing employment for the Jina iconography problematic. The great popularity of the tritīrthika-images in the field of Western Indian bronzes (mostly with the formula: non--non-P, Pārśva, non--non-P) remains unexplained. Tritīrthika-compositions are also found in the medieval Jaina art of Central India, not only as main figures but also as subsidiary figures. - The twenty-four rock-cut Jinas at Sirukkadambur (PJA: fig. 57) are a riddle. Any composition consisting of or including twenty-four Jina.s is likely to introduce some characteristics of the Jina.s, the characterization of Pārśva (as opposed to the twenty-three remaining non-Pārśva.s) being the minimum. However, the twenty-four Sirukkadambur Jina.s are all identical.


Throughout this article, we have tried to study the subject from as many different angles as possible. We have, however, nowhere discussed the question whether the iconographic facts help us in the study of the absolute or relative chronology. Although this may normally be the case, we always have to consider the possibility that a specific development (appearance or disappearance of a motif) started at different places at different times. Chronology must therefore be reserved to studies which consider all aspects of the matter (style etc.), not only the iconographic aspect.


§ 10. The context of the present paper

We supply below a terminological synopsis of the "earlier studies" published in 1956-77 (see p. 229 above) on the one hand and the present paper on the other. We use quotation marks for the terms used in 1956-77 and parentheses for the discussion in the present paper (terms etc.).

Bruhn Kh (1956), pp. 25-26

"statistics" of wall-figures (repetition segments: pp. 246-47, 248-49).

Bruhn Di (1960)

"reduction of distinctions" (discussion of the topic on p. 246).

JID (1969), Ch. 20: Types (lists in § 277)

"figure-type" (type: §§ 2-3), "image-type" (modes: pp. 239-41).

JID, Ch. 21: Systems

"systems" (largely translated into the maxim "unity dissected": §§ 1, 6, 7); the concepts "type" and "system" as used in JID are very abstract and do not help to organize the material.

JID, Ch. 22: Attributes

"attributes" (in spite of conceptual changes, the present discussion is fairly close to Ch. 22; see also § 11).

JID, Ch. 23: Form-Principles

"form-principles" (studies in form-principles redefined: § 5 passim).

JID, fig. 389A (graph)

"motifs" and "formulas" (motifs in SF analysis: § 3; partial motifs: § 4; the concept of formula: Parts II-III).

Bruhn Cl (1976)

"classification", various topics, (several connecting lines with the present paper).

Bruhn Pā (1977), Section I

"main divisions", i.e. general analysis of the iconography of Parsva (compare our Mode I: p. 240).


The present paper mainly corresponds to Bruhn Id, and Parts II-III will partly correspond to Bruhn An. However, the conceptual framework has been changed compared to the two earlier papers. The complexities of Jina (Jaina) iconography which we notice today could not have been studied ten or twenty years ago when many important images were still unpublished.

In Parts II-III of our study we will discuss the following topics. -

  1. System B continued, see p. 256;
  2. Kubera and Ambikā;
  3. System A continued: the twenty-four yakṣa.s and yakṣī.s;
  4. the sixteen mahāvidyā.s;
  5. sundry deities as elements of the parikara;
  6. the iconography of Pārśva;
  7. ramifications of the Jina type (Bāhubali, Bharata, and Jīvantasvāmin);
  8. Jina images and related Buddha images;
  9. explaining the inexplicable (iconography and ætiological legends);
  10. further philological notes;
  11. caturmukha.s, tritīrthika-images, and caturviṃśati-compositions;
  12. late medieval innovations (Nandīśvaradvīpa etc.);
  13. posture, anatomy, and anatomie surnaturelle of the Jina;
  14. two general concepts: "grid" (p. 236) and "formula" (JID: § 275);
  15. general analysis of the Jina image (JID: § 389A);
  16. regional varieties of the Jina image (p. 240: Mode II).

Our Systems A and B stand for the departure from the old method where all twenty-four Jina.s have been treated separately, and one by one. Refer for the old method to Bhattacharya Jn (pp. 34-64), U.P. Shah's Jaina-Rūpa-Maṇḍana (pp. 112-93), Tiwari Pr (pp. 85-144), and Mohapatra Or (pp. 206-23).


The author is grateful to G. Mevissen for his criticism and for his help in the preparation of the final draft. His thanks also go to R. Radzinski and M. Deter who have been kind enough to read through and correct the English text of this paper.


§ 11. Terms

For terms which are not explained below or in the text of the paper, the reader is referred to JID §§ 11-15.


We use this word only in the combinations "attribute value" (pp. 241-43) and "hand attribute". A "hand attribute" is an object held in the hand, a gesture of the hand, or a combination of both. See also p. 261.


see medieval.

gods and goddesses

see image.


Refer to p. 244 for the terminological cycle of the image.


“Jina” stands always for “Tīrthankara” and never for “Buddha”.

“left and right”

Left and right as seen by the viewer.


Refer for lists of the 24 Jina.s, cihna.s, yakṣa.s, and yakṣī.s to Tiwari El or Glasenapp Jn.

main figure

see image


In the case of Deogarh, "early-medieval" and "medieval" stand for 850-950 and 950-1150 (p. 240 and JID: x-xii). In other contexts the two terms stand for ca. 850-950 and ca. 950-1150. These conventions are only used with reference to Northern Indian art.


"Neither Ṛṣabha nor Pārśva" (used besides "non-Ṛṣabha" and "non-Pārśva").

Northern India

Collective term for "Eastern, Central, and Western India".


see image.

Parts II-III

Parts II-III of this paper (forthcoming: see § 10).


see § 7.

SF analysis

Slot-filler analysis; see § 3.


see image.


Classificatory terms like "subtype" are only used in an informal manner.


"Type" is a technical term (§ 2-3), and employment in related but different meanings is avoided as far as possible.

§ 12. List of figures with acknowledgements

Fig. 1. Frieze slab, Deogarh (JID: § 231), outer side of the rear wall of Temple No. 1; Jaina Sarasvatī and two Jina.s: Sambhava (no. 3) - Ajita (no. 2) - Sarasvatī. See pp. 242-43 (iconographic restrictions). - Tiwari El: 55-57 (= Lalit Kalā 17.1974, pp. 41-42). - Author's photograph.

Fig. 2. Frieze slabs, Deogarh, inner side of the rear wall of Temple No. 1. Four frieze slabs showing (i) various Jina.s, (ii) Bharata (Cakravartin), (iii) Pārśva, (iv) Supārśva, (v) ācārya.s (ācārya slab). See pp. 242-43 for the ācārya slab (iconographic restrictions). - Museum für Indische Kunst, Berlin KH 38 (5).

Fig. 3. Bronze image of Ṛṣabha from Bihar. Pal Ex: 152. The image demonstrates the comparatively rare case of parallel strands in the time after the Gupta period and is thus a specimen of hair-style Type I. Refer for Chausa to EIB: figs. 12a-b, for the early Gupta period to Mosteller Fo: pl. 60 and p. 47, for the classical Gupta style to JAApls. 62-63, and for Ellora to PJA fig. 143 (Bāhubali). At Ellora and elsewhere Bāhubali is shown with the same strands as Ṛṣabha. Our bronze Ṛṣabha has obviously a slight indication of the uṣṇīṣa. The animal occupying the place of the cihna can be identified as an antelope. See p. 253 for hair-style Type I and pp. 258-59 for the antelope. - P. Pal, The Sensuous Immortals, p. 86.

Fig. 4. Collossal Jina, Deogarh, pradakṣiṇāpatha of Temple No. 12 (non-Ṛ-non-P), early-medieval. Demonstration of hair-style Type I without lateral strands (this case is possibly restricted to Deogarh); see p. 253. The image has already been reproduced in JID (fig. 347) and Bruhn Id (fig. 2, see also fig. 1 ibid.). The cylindrical uṣṇīṣa is a local development found at Deogarh with several early-medieval Jina.s irrespective of their hair-style (e.g. compare JID, fig. 84: uṣṇīṣa and curls).

Fig. 5. Ṛṣabha, Mathurā. JAA: pl. 47B. The hair of this Ṛṣabha shows basically the old strand formula (fig. 3), but at the same rime it demonstrates the V-pattern of Type Ia which recurs in Types II-III. See also PJA: fig. 120 (Bāhubali, Aihole), PJA: fig. 129 (Bāhubali, Badami), Meister Ām: figs. 1 and 4 (two Ṛṣabha.s, Amrol [south-east of Gwalior]), and Bruhn Id: fig. 7 (Ṛṣabha, Badoh). The unpublished Bāhubali on the Gwalior Fort must likewise be mentioned. See p. 265. - The inscription reads "(1) siddham - Ṛṣabhasya pratimā. Samu[d]r[a] - (2) Sāgarābhyaṃ Saṅgārakasya (3) dattī - Sagarasya pratimā". See Lüders Ma: § 9, and refer for datti = dāna to Damsteegt Ep: 252. The paleography points to the time between AD 250 and 350 (G. Bhattacharya). Image and inscription are the first evidence of the connection of the strands with Ṛṣabha. - Photo: G. von Mitterwallner.

Fig. 6. Head of the Buddha, Mirpur Khas, terracotta. See Pal As: 66. "Hair" and "uṣṇīṣa" are merged into a cap-like element. The rendering of the curls as a sort of snail-shell pattern covering the skull is also found with Western Indian bronze Jina.s (Shah Ak: pl. 39 etc.). See p. 253. - P. Pal, The Ideal Image, p. 66.

Fig. 7. Ṛṣabha on a caturmukha, origin unknown. Pal Cy I: 62, 258-59; Pal Ex: 132-33. The hair-style is a classical example of Type II (p. 253). The main change in the evolution of the formula is the gradual reduction of the strands: Sharma Bu: fig. 127 (Mathurā - head of a Jina, and not head of a Buddha); Williams Gu: pl. 231 (Mathura); JID: fig. 131 (Gwalior); JID: fig. 132 (Deogarh). The head of fig. 7 is less stylized than the head of the fragment reproduced by R.C. Sharma. The parallelism in the evolution of Buddha and Jina images may cause problems when detached heads are to be identified. - We consider hair-styles as published by P. Pal and R.C. Sharma the starting points for Type II. But it is obvious that comparable examples of parted or slightly parted hair/strands already surface at an earlier date. See Kreisel Śi: fig. 61c; Maxwell Vi: figs. 21 and 38. - P. Pal, Indian Sculpture Vol.1: p. 258.

Fig. 8. Head of a Jina, Central India. See Heeramaneck Ma: pl. 70 (and ibid, note in the Catalogue). The fragment is here identified as "head of a Jina" and not as "female head". The hair-style follows Type II and shows a high degree of stylization. See p. 253. - A.N. Heeramaneck, Masterpieces of Indian Sculpture, pl. 70.

Fig. 9. Pārvatī with deerskin. See Pal As: 96. The image shows a well-known form of the jaṭā (Hindu, Buddhist) which forms the prototype of our Type III. Compare Ashton Ar: pl. 34 (fig. 206), Coomaraswamy Hi: fig. 171, and Asher Ea: pls. 161-62. The hair-style includes the V-pattern of fig. 5. See p. 253. - A.N. Heeramaneck, Masterpieces of Indian Sculpture, pl. 40.

Fig. 10. Ṛṣabha, Deogarh (JID: fig. 97 = Bruhn Id: fig. 3). Flat jaṭā as compared to the tall jaṭā of fig. 9. See p. 253. Compare for the flat jaṭā of the Jina JRM: fig. 34 (Vasantagadh), for the tall jaṭā of the Jina Asher Ea, pls. 182, 200-01 (Eastern India) and JRM: fig. 98 (Central India). The tall jaṭā forms the basis of the jaṭā-mukuṭa.s of the Ṛṣabha images in Eastern India. Deogarh has an intermediate formula (JID: figs. 86 etc.) but no tall jaṭā. It is possible that Type III without lateral strands (JID: figs. 135 and 112) is restricted to Deogarh. In fig. 10, the jaṭā is crowned by an uṣṇīṣa lotus (compare for this motif JID: fig. 106 etc.).

Figs. 11. (11-14) and 15 illustrate two Jina sculptures carved on faces of the Fort-rock at Gwalior (750-850). Apparently the greater part of the relevant sculptures has already been published, and in ITA 1991, pp. 3-4 we also find a short reference to the importance of early-medieval Jaina art at Gwalior. We refer the reader to the following: Guide Gw: 38; JID: figs. 18, 18A 32, 131; JAA: pl. 60B; Chakravarty Gw: 61 (one illustration), 62 (one ill.), 63 (one ill.). With the exception of JID: figs. 32 and 131, all these sculptures are rock-cut. The composition of figs. 11-14 is here published for the first time. Two collossal images on the Fort Gwalior are still unpublished: one Bāhubali image and one image with Ṛṣabha and a non-Ṛṣabha (?) dos-à-dos; see photographs KH 60 (32) and (33) of the Museum für Indische Kunst, Berlin.

Figs. 11-14. Unique composition of unusual complexity and artistic merit. There are traces of white-wash and remains of red colour on the sculptures. The composition is accommodated in a niche and includes six Jina figures: no. 1 (central figure), nos. 2-5 (middle zone: four Jina.s standing, seated, seated, standing [no. 5: Pārśva]), and no. 6 (Pārśva figure to the right of the "entrance" on the facade). Worthy of note are the huge triple parasol (no. 1), the double-drum (nos. 1, 3, 4), the Aśoka motif (nos. 1, 4), and the two panels in the lower register behind no. 1 (tutelary couple and Ambikā). Instead of a special pedestal for no. 1 the artists provided the composition with a general pedestal serving also as a type of doorsill on the outer side of the niche. The motifs of this pedestal are "elephant, waterpot, dharmacakra, waterpot, elephant". Nos. 2-5 probably all have small figures in the yakṣa/yakṣī slots. We can recognize a kneeling adorant and Cakreśvarī (?) in the case of no. 3, and a seated Kubera in the case of no. 4 (to the left). The carving on the pedestal of no. 2 is visible but not identifiable. No. 1 has curls (and no lateral strands), while no. 3 has the hair-style of Type II (perhaps with lateral strands). In the case of no. 1, the right-hand panel with the celestial couple projects from the back-wall, and an Asoka tree, which belongs to no. 4, has been carved on its lower side. At the time of this composition, the Asoka tree was still less standardized than other motifs. The waterpots on the pedestal of no. 1 - which look like stūpa.s - are unusual, although there may be a few parallels. The two Pārśva.s (nos. 5-6) have male cāmara-bearers and female parasol-bearers as attendant figures. The double-drum (nos. 1,3,4) occurs not only in Eastern India but has also found its way into Central India (Pal Ex: 134). The composition as a whole can be compared stylistically with the great Śāntinātha of Temple No. 12 at Deogarh (JID: figs. 7-10). There is a second elaborate rock-cut Jina composition on the Fort-rock at Gwalior (seated Jina, Guide Gw: 38). It is slightly later than the composition under review. - See p. 250 (development of the parikara). - I am much obliged to Günter Heil (Berlin) who made several photographs from Gwalior available and thus brought to my attention the importance of Gwalior for the development of the early-medieval Jaina art of Central India.

Fig. 15. Composition with seated Jina (JAA: pl. 60B). The Jina shows hair-style Type II with lateral strands. The rim of the bhāmaṇḍala has faint but well-executed carving. Parallels for the precise form of the individual parikara motifs may be found in post-Gupta rather than in early-medieval art. - Photograph: Günter Heil.

Fig. 16. Ṛṣabha image from Orai (Jalaun, U.P.), early-medieval. See Tiwari El: fig. 3 and Tiwari Pr: fig. 7. The most noteworthy iconographic features are the Jaina Kubera to the left and Cakreśvarī to the right of the lion-throne, the two small figures of Lakṣmī (?) and Ambikā to the left and to the right of the dharmacakra (Tiwari El: 46), and finally the adorants (two plus two) in the two small panels decorating the lowest zone of the pedestal. The image is a fairly early instance of the combination of curls with lateral strands. See also p. 259 (cihna). - I am much indebted to M.N.P. Tiwari for providing, through the American Institute of Indian Studies, the excellent enlargement used for the present illustration.

Fig. 17. Seated Ṛṣabha surrounded by 23 seated miniature Jina.s with cihna.s (Varendra Research Museum). Ramachandran Jn: pl. 26. Representations of 1+23 (1 + 24) Jina.s with individual cihna.s originated in Eastern India where they are found frequently. Images of this type have mostly, if not invariably, Ṛṣabha as their main figure. The miniature Supārśva of fig. 13 has no snake-hoods, and his cihna is a lotus (second row from top, third Jina from the left). All 23 miniature Jina.s of the image must be read from left to right (e.g. waterpot for Malli to the left and tortoise for Munisuvrata to the right). The Ṛṣabha image of Chandra Al: fig. 277 is also to be read from left to right. Supārśva's irregular lotus cihna is known from the Bārabhujī Cave of the Khaṇḍagiri (Mitra Śā: pl. 3B and Mohapatra Or: 211). There are a few problems, but most of the cihna.s can be identified in the photograph. The top zone of the central image is richer than usual: hands with cymbal, hands with rosette, central motif (triple roof, drum, stylized tree), hands with cymbal, hands with rosette. The parasols of the miniature Jina.s only have single roofs. See p. 259.

- I am grateful to J.K. Bautze, who supplied the quality enlargement.


§ 13. Bibliography

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Asher Hi

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Ashton At

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Banerjea Ic

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Banerji Bh

R.D. Banerji, The Temple of Śiva at Bhumara. MASI No. 16. Calcutta 1924.

Bautze-Picron Av

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Bautze-Picron Sy

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Desai Er

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