bronze mirrorr with two columns of auspicious inscriptions for career promotion and healthy offsprings in eight characters separated by the central knob, which is, in turn, surrounded by stylized mystical animal motif on both side.
A ten-armed figure sits with her legs tucked under her on a tiger with a long uplifted tail. The figure is incised onto the copper plate with a chisel. One set of arms are crossed across her chest, while all but six hands hold weapons. A crossed spear and trident form an X behind the figure. She has wide bracelets at each of her wrists and wears elaborate circular earrings and nose ring with a three partite crown. Two lines in devanagari script are above the figure.
Labeled as Durga, an umbrella title or classification for Goddess images, she is probably more aptly titled as Mujunidevi in Kulu, the place where this was mostly likely produced. But the iconography is pan-Indian as the name Durga is fully descriptive. Consistently the goddess rides on a tiger or lion, often apparently a combination of both felines, and carries weapons with which to kill demons. The Goddess was produced to kill demons that the gods could not kill and it was only a creation of the Goddess out of their combined powers that the demons were quelled. Here weapons of a variety of the Gods are present suggesting that collective power. Despite Durga’s militant appearance, this yantra, or mystical diagram offers its beholder a fierce and maternal protection. Elements of love, care, and nourishment are very much present alongside her martial strength. .Durga bears the weapons given to her by the male deities to kill demons that they could not subdue. The weapons represent the embodied energies, or shaktis of the individual gods, which are combined in the goddess. Most often, images of her emphasize that extraordinary energy: one famous icon represents the goddess dancing upon the inert prostrate form of her consort Shiva. This copper plate shows a six-armed Durga in a less ecstatic mode, yet her force is palpable as she parades confidently on her tiger mount. Devotion to the goddess may be less idealized, less gentle than devotion to the gods, but there is the same immediacy and intimacy about it.
Eight worshippers sit to the right of a sky-clad (nude) Jina and monk. They each raise beads in their hands. Below them a struggle is depicted. Two men in shorts wrestle, while a snake, tiger, and elephant rera up beside a fire.
In the Jain religion, book production reflects the integral relationship among the laity, monastic community, and the Jina, or enlightened Jain teacher. The dedication of sacred books for shrines is required of devotees, and while commissioning a book fulfills the lay obligation of charity, beholding a book helps the individual achieve the proper mental state for spiritual guidance. It was customary for a lay donor to commission a copy of a text for presentation to his spiritual teacher and ultimately to the temple library.
The animals are presented in zodiac sequence, from right to left: mouse, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, goat, monkey, chicken, dog, and boar. The eight-fold screen allows the animals to seem to walk across the space. Negative space plays a significant role in the screen, creating a place for the animals to exist and at the same time extending into the room.
The twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, who represent not only the sequence of years but also the times of the day and directions of the compass, have a history that dates back at least two thousand years. From China this calendrical system spread throughout East Asia, and it is still in use today despite the adoption of a Gregorian calendar and modern clocks.
The minimal background of a few plants reinforces the concept of a natural cycle that moves through the seasons from spring (bamboo shoots and pinks) through autumn (chrysanthemums and pampas grass).
Two distinct registers divide a page in half. At the top, a yellow-orange colored nude jina sits in lotus position upon a three tiered throne [a patterned blue level at the bottom on feet, with an orange section with gold and red decoration and a green level at the top with gold vertical stripes]. He sits against a red background adorned with a pattern of three white dots. The background takes the shape of an elegant cusped arch with a green and white pattern along its outside with a gold pattern at its sides. To the right of the seated figure a nude Digambara monk sits with his legs folded and one knee up on a less elaborate throne with a lota or pot at the corner and a crossed bookstand to the side holding a book with some devanagari writing on it. He raises his right arm and holds his left to his ear.
Placed under a band of curving yellow stripes, the bottom register represents animals in a landscape. At the bottom are clumps of grass with four stylized mountain forms in blue at the right. Above the mountains stands a tiger facing a family of antelope striding towards him. The family consists of the blue male with his long spiraling horns and a yellow doe below him with a flesh-colored in front of her. Another small yellow fawn takes up the rear. Clumps of light blue and green grasses fill in the background.
The stark picture reflects essential features of the Jain faith: the ideal of renunciation, meditation on the Jina, and reliance on canonical texts. Dedication of sacred books is required of Jain devotees, and book production reflects the integral relationship between the laity, monastic community, and the Jina. Commissioning a book fulfills the lay obligation of charity, while beholding a book helps the individual achieve the proper mental state for spiritual guidance.
It was customary for a lay donor to commission a copy of a text for presentation to his spiritual teacher and ultimately to the monk’s temple library. Over the centuries, libraries received great quantities of texts, which were employed in the instruction of monks and nuns. Monks and nuns were discouraged, however, from practicing the art of painting: one text expressly warns them of the power of painting to arouse sensual feelings.