King Vajrasimha and Queen Surasundari in Conversation
Page from a dispersed manuscript of the Kalacharyakatha (Legend of the Teacher-Monk Kalaka)
Artist/maker unknown, India
This page of a Jain text is among the earliest works on paper from the Indian subcontinent. Its long, horizontal format mimics the narrow dimensions of the palm-leaf pages used for religious manuscripts before Muslim settlers brought papermaking technology to India. The manuscript would have been bound by strings threaded through the central red dot (the hole has been filled). The figures are the parents of Kalaka, a Jain monk and teacher, whose life and adventures are described in the Kalakacharyakatha. They are drawn in wiry, black lines against a solid red background and their pointed profiles include the farther eyes, which project out of their faces. These characteristics typify the style developed in western India primarily under Jain patronage.