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Transfer of the Embryo of Mahavira, Folio 12 (recto), from a Kalpa-sutra

Transfer of the Embryo of Mahavira, Folio 12 (recto), from a Kalpa-sutra

c. 1475–1500

Part of a set. See all set records

Gum tempera, ink, and gold on paper

Overall: 12.5 x 25.7 cm (4 15/16 x 10 1/8 in.)

Edward L. Whittemore Fund 1932.119.12.a



The tiny captions written in Sanskrit to the right of the painting identify the subject of this scene: “abduction of the embryo” and “transfer of the embryo.” The embryo is the unborn founder of the Jain religion.

In this miraculous episode, a goat-headed divinity who presides over miscarriage and childbirth gently takes the embryo in his cupped hands away from the reclining Brahmin lady in the scene above. Below, he carries it to a queen, who will be the birth mother.

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