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Browsing: Śālibhadra-caupaī (Or. 13524)

Image: Blank first page of Śālibhadra-caupaī

Title: Blank first page of Śālibhadra-caupaī

Source:
The British Library Board
Shelfmark:
Or. 13524
Author:
Matisāra
Date of creation:
1726
Folio number:
1 recto
Total number of folios:
40
Place of creation:
Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Language:
Gujarāti in Devanāgarī script
Medium:
opaque watercolour on paper
Size:
28 x 11.5 cms
Copyright:
CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
Image copyright: Creative Commons Public Domain

Background

The ultimate purpose of Śālibhadra’s story – Śālibhadra-caupaī – is to illustrate the virtues of giving alms to Jain monks. But, like most Jain stories, it is eventful and full of lively characters. The Śālibhadra-caupaī is very popular in the Jain tradition. It is known from the many interpretations that have been written in Prakrit, Sanskrit and the vernacular languages.

This manuscript features the famous telling by Matisāra, written in Old Gujarati. Matisāra’s version of the story has often been illustrated in different styles.

The text is a narrative poem in verse, known as rāsa or caupa. This type of composition is popular in Gujarāti literature. The poem is divided into 29 sections called ḍhāla. Each section starts with a refrain verse and is associated with a specific musical mode – rāga. Such poems are meant to be read, but also performed, with recitation and musicians.

Glossary

Jain
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
Rāga
Literally 'colour' or 'hue' in Sanskrit, rāga has come to mean 'beauty', 'harmony' and 'melody'. Consisting of five or more musical notes from which a melody is created, the rāga is one of the melodic modes of Indian classical music. Traditionally, rāgas express the moods of different times of day or seasons to help create an emotional response in the listeners.
Sanskrit
A classical language of India, originally used by priests and nobility. Sanskrit has a rich literary and religious tradition. With only a few thousand native speakers nowadays, it is predominantly used in Hindu religious ceremonies and by scholars.
Prākrit
A term for any of the dead vernacular languages of ancient and medieval India. It may be contrasted with classical Sanskrit, the language used by priests and the aristocracy. The Jains used a large variety of Prakrits, with the Jain canon written chiefly in Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit.
Vernacular
The everyday or common language spoken by people in a particular country or region, often contrasting with the literary form or the national or official language. Similarly, vernacular architecture reflects local conditions and conventions more than other considerations, such as national or international design trends, and may be built by non-professional architects.
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