The Pianarosa Jaina Library

Posted: 07.03.2017
Updated on: 03.05.2017

Centre of Jaina Studies Newsletter: SOAS - University of London


In June 2012, the Department of Asian and Islamic Art History at the University of Bonn officially opened the Pianarosa Library, a specialist library on Jaina art and culture. The roughly 1,600 scholarly monographs, edited volumes and periodicals in European and Indian languages were donated by the family of the late Paolo Pianarosa (1949-2010). The department is striving to further enhance the collections and to make the Pianarosa Library one of the world's most comprehensive research and resource centres for material on Jaina Studies.

Paolo Pianarosa, a specialist librarian from Turin in Italy worked for the Soprintendenza Beni Librari della Regione Piemonte. He developed an interest in Jainism, particularly in Karnataka. In 1983 he started taking private classes in Sanskrit and continued studying the language for the next twelve years. In the early 1980s,  Pianarosa commenced gathering books on Jaina subjects and from 2001 visited India regularly.

When Paolo Pianarosa passed away in 2010, the family searched for a new home for his scholarly collection and contacted Prof. Hegewald who since 2005 has been heading a major research project on Jainism in Karnataka funded by the German Research Association (DFG). The project examines the rise and decline of Jainism in the south of India but also Jaina culture and art in India as a whole as well as in the diaspora.[1]

In summer 2011, the books were transported to Bonn and since 2012 his private scholarly collection forms an integral part of the library of the Department of Asian and Islamic Art History at the University of Bonn. It is housed in a separated room of the department, the socalled Pianarosa Library. The library stock covers a wide variety of topics, including Jaina art, architecture, religion, philosophy, language and literature, to name but a few. The majority of the publications date from the period after the 1910s, reaching up to the present day. Due to Pianarosa's passion for Indian languages, the library comprises over 900 publications written in Sanskrit, Hindi, Kannada and Gujarati. Among these are also a number of traditional Jaina manuscripts bound between book covers. The almost 600 publications in European languages are mainly, but not exclusively, in English.

The Pianarosa Library was inaugurated with a lecture series entitled 'Text, Image and Circulation: Jaina Art in India and the Pianarosa Library in Bonn'. From April to June 2012 international scholars from Germany, Italy, Belgium, France and Great Britain delivered lectures on the subject at the Department of Asian and Islamic Art History in Bonn. The manuscripts of these lectures will be published in an edited volume as part of the department's own publication series 'Studies in Asian Art and Culture' (SAAC).


The Pianarosa Jaina Library

The international lecture series commenced on 26 April 2012 with  a presentation by Julia A. B. Hegewald, Head of the Department of Asian and Islamic Art History, University of Bonn. To inaugurate the lecture series and  to introduce the audience to the subject, she spoke on 'The Role of Sacred Manuscripts in Jaina Religion, Art and Space'. The series continued on 3rd May with a second lecture by Andrea Luithle-Hardenberg from the University of Tübingen. She delivered a presentation entitled 'The Stations of the Pilgrimage to Mount Shatrunjaya: Patas as Mnemonic Images of Pilgrimage Rituals', which gave an insight into the detailed research she has carried out on pilgrimage banners of Mount Shatrunjaya. In the following week, Jennifer Howes from the Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections (APAC) of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the British Library in London lectured on 'Early documentation on Jainism: The Mackenzie Collection in the British Library'. This was followed by Imre Bangha from the University of Oxford on 24 May 2012. He read a paper entitled 'The Manuscripts of the Devotional Songs of Ānandghan'. On 14 June, Nick Barnard, curator from the South Asia Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, showed extensive material from the V&A collections and delivered a paper entitled 'Jaina Manuscripts and Paintings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London'. The presentation on 21 June on 'Medieval Digambara Jainism in North India: Bhattarakas, Merchants and Art', paper entitled 'Studying Jainism: The Life and Library of Paolo Pianarosa, Turin'.


Nalini Balbir and Julia A.B. Hegewald

After these two academic lectures, there was a brief presentation by Erika Schwager, student assistant in the Department of Asian and Islamic Art History, who explained the layout of the library, the ordering system of the shelf  marks and   the  catalogue. Subsequently, honoured guests who had donated books or funds to the library participated in a traditional South Indian lamp lighting ceremony. Wicks were lit by Mrs Maria Elena Romero Paucar (wife of the late Paolo Pianarosa),  Willem Bollée from Bamberg, Jayandra Soni from Innsbruck (formerly from the University of Marburg) and Hampana Nagarajaiah from Bangalore. The fifth light was lit by Verena Bodenstein, a BA student and student assistant from the Department of Asian and Islamic Art History in Bonn, to indicate that the library should be used by students and scholars and that the life and future of the collection are in their hands. Finally, Tiziana Lorenzetti, an art historian and keen researcher on Jainism from Rome, and Tiziana Ripepi, who had both been instrumental in bringing the collection to Bonn, cut the ceremonial ribbon  and  officially  opened  the remarkable collection of Paolo Pianarosa to the public. The evening was rounded off with a buffet dinner at the department.

The aims of the Pianarosa Library are to preserve the present collections, supplement them with further texts on Jainism and provide easy access for on-site study to scholars wishing to work with the material. The bibliographic records of the collection have been catalogued and are available as a PDF document via a link on the departmental webpage (www.ioa.unibonn.de/abteilungen/aik/pianarosa-library). The online catalogue was last updated in January 2013. It has been supplemented by additional books on Jaina art and architecture from the library of the Department of Asian and   Islamic  Art History  and  by  books  given  by  Professor Soni and Professor Nagarajaiah. Further volumes will join the collection from the Gritli von Mitterwallner bequest from Munich (2012) in due course. Two generous financial donations, which were kindly made by Willem and  Annegret  Bollée, will  allow  the department to expand and enhance the collection with recent publications on Jainism in order to keep it up to date.


The South Indian lamp ceremony: (from left) Willem Bollée, Mrs Paucar, Jayandra Soni, Julia Hegewald, Verena Bodenstein, and  Hampana Nagarajaiah.

For further information on the work of the Pianarosa Library please contact the Department of Asian and Islamic Art History (aikinfo@uni-bonn.de, 0049-22873 72 12) or Professor Julia A. B. Hegewald directly (julia.hegewald@uni-bonn.de). For questions regarding the library catalogue please contact Erika Schwager (ejschw@uni-bonn.de).

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CoJS Newsletter • March 2013 • Issue 8