Mar 3, 2022
Mar 3, 2022

Transfer of the Embryo, folio 13 from a Kalpa-sutra (recto)

Transfer of the Embryo, folio 13 from a Kalpa-sutra (recto)


Part of a set. See all set records

Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper

Sheet: 11.7 x 29.5 cm (4 5/8 x 11 5/8 in.); Matted: 38.1 x 50.8 cm (15 x 20 in.)

On Loan from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 17.2014.a



The double painting on this page illustrates the text describing the unusual circumstances of the early gestation of Mahavira, the historical founder of Jainism who lived during the 500s BC. He had been conceived in the womb of a Brahmin lady of the orthodox Hindu priest class. Indra, king of the gods, mandated that the future founder of a new religion should be born of a queen. So he sent his commander, a goat-headed divinity in charge of both causing and preventing miscarriages, to remove the embryo from the womb of the Brahmin lady and implant it in the womb of Queen Trishala. In the bottom register the goat-headed figure approaches the reclining queen with the precious golden embryo cupped in his hands.

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