CATALOGUE No. 32 SANDSTONE HEAD OF A JINA
CENTRAL OR WESTERN INDIA
PROBABLY FROM RAJASTHAN
H. 34 CMS, 13 ½ INS
A superb, over life-size pale buff sandstone head of a Jain Tirthankara (Jina), sensitively modelled with a benign, tranquil expression beneath bow-shaped brows; the eyes wide open with an intense spiritual gaze, the hair arranged in snail shell curls rising to a lotus usnisha.
The principal Jain pantheon consists of twenty-four Tirthankaras (or saviours), the first being Rishabhanatha and the last Mahavira. A Tirthankara, or Jina has successfully passed through all the cycles of rebirth to create a passage for believers. Mahavira (c. 599-527 BC) was a historical figure and a near contemporary of the Buddha.
For a comparable head, see fig. 53 in J. C. Harle and A. Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1987.
Provenance: Private collection, UK.