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Browsing: Manuscript cover (IS 20-1978)

Image: Manuscript cover – back

Title: Manuscript cover – back

Source:
Victoria and Albert Museum
Shelfmark:
IS. 20-1978
Author:
unknown
Date of creation:
late 19th century
Folio number:
not applicable
Total number of folios:
not applicable
Place of creation:
Gujarat
Language:
not applicable
Medium:
red satin embroidered with gold thread and sequins
Size:
circa 27 x 13 cms
Copyright:
V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London
JAINpedia Copyright Information

Description

This rectangular red satin cover is the back cover of a manuscript and may date back to the late 19th century. An ornate border embroidered on all four sides functions as a frame. There are eight finely sewn pictures in individual compartments.

Moving from left to right, the images are as follows:

  • svastika
  • śrīvatsa
  • nandyāvarta
  • powder box or flask – vardhamānaka
  • throne – bhadrāsana
  • full water-jug – kalaśa
  • pair of fish – matsyayugma
  • mirror – darpaṇa.

These are the eight auspicious symbolsaṣṭa-mangala – of the Śvetāmbaras. The symbols are found in Jain religious tradition. Together with the 14 dreams of the mother of a Jina-to-be, they have frequently decorated manuscript coverspāṭhuṃ in Gujarati – since the 18th century.

In this case, the 14 dreams are depicted on the front manuscript cover.

Background

A book is bound, which means it has a spine into which the pages are glued or stitched so a reader can easily turn over the pages. A traditional manuscript is made up of loose sheets of paper. Earlier manuscripts were created from palm leaves or similar material. The sheets were tied together using strings passed through holes in each sheet or folio so the reader could turn them over easily.

A manuscript is unbound but sometimes has a manuscript cover to protect it. This has two parts, one at the beginning, the other at the end. Manuscript covers are made of paper, cloth, cardboard or wood. They can be decorated and painted.

Glossary

Nandyāvarta
A kind of diagram shaped like an elaborate svastika. It is one of the eight auspicious symbols or aṣṭa-maṅgala.
Śvetāmbara
'White-clad’ in Sanskrit, the title of one of the two main divisions of Jainism, in which both male and female mendicants wear white robes. There are some differences of doctrine or belief between these two sects and to some extent their followers consider themselves as belonging to distinct branches. Divisions can be fierce in practical matters, for example, over the ownership of pilgrimage places, but all sects see themselves as Jains.
Gujarati
The language that developed in Gujarat, in western India. It is also spoken in neighbouring states. Also a term for someone or something associated with or coming from Gujarat.
Folio
A single sheet of paper or parchment with a front and a back side. Manuscripts and books are written or printed on both sides of sheets of paper. A manuscript page is one side of a sheet of paper, parchment or other material. The recto page is the top side of a sheet of paper and the verso is the underside.
Śrīvatsa
The endless knot that is frequently found in the middle of ta Jina's chest in works of art. One of the eight auspicious symbols – aṣṭa-mangala – of the Śvetāmbara Jains, the śrīvatsa is also the emblem of Śītalanātha or Lord Śītala for members of this sect. Digambara Jains believe that the emblem ithe tenth Jina is the śrīvatsa or wishing tree.

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