The Identification of Jina Images

Published: 12.08.2011
Updated: 02.07.2015


Editor's Note

The present paper by Prof. Klaus Bruhn is the first of a serial of essays on Jaina iconography, which was primarily published in the first issue of the periodical Berliner Indologische Studien (1, 1985) of the Institute of Indology and Indian Art History of Freie Universität Berlin. Edited with a small number of copies, this issue was for a long time out of print and is usually hard to find, even in specialized libraries. To make this important study available again to the academic Jainology, this online edition has been published. Starting the CfJS Journal of Jainology with an essay by Klaus Bruhn is no coincidence, since the continuation of German Jainology is a primary concern of the Center for Jaina Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. So it is a pleasure to reissue this eminent study on the iconography of Jina images.


The Identification of Jina Images

Preface to HereNow4U Online Edition

The present article is based on North-Indian Jaina sculpture (850-1150) and tries to describe in a systematic manner the many differenciating devices which determine the character of central Indian Jina iconography, see § 4.

I appreciate this online re-issue of my article on 'Identification.' The text was written in 1985 as a continuation of my study of The Jina Images of Deogarh (Leiden 1969). 'The Identification of Jina Images' appeared in the Berliner Indologische Studien, Band 1.1985: 149-175.

§ 1. Introduction

There are twenty-four different Jinas, and there are a number of artistic devices to distinguish one Jina from another. No doubt, these devices form only a small fraction of the entire mass of motifs which constitute the iconography of the Jinas. However, both questions (the specified devices: §§5-6, and the great number of other motifs: §§7-8) belong together, and it is difficult to study one of them in isolation, i.e. without due regard for the other. The present article is a compromise. We put the differentiating devices in the foreground and discuss the issue of the - more numerous - remaining motifs in a less detailed manner. It is hoped, that in the course of further publications a precise image of the whole structure (or "syntax") of Jina iconography will emerge. The emphasis on "identification" seems in any case justified since there is some practical need for a systematic discussion of this point.

The term "identification" which has here been used repeatedly requires some clarification. From the point of view of logic we have to distinguish between "identification" (by the viewer) and "characterization" or "differentiation" (by the artist). From the point of view of Jina iconography we have to mention that there is the twofold issue of distinguishing Jina X from Jina Y and of distinguishing a Jina from a non-Jina (Hindu god etc.). Identification as a practical problem is only concerned with the first case since it is very easy to distinguish a Jina from a non-Jina (i.e. to recognize a Jina as such) but less easy to distinguish "Jina X from Jina Y".

Our subject is defined by tradition (see also §10 below). The texts tell us what a Jina is, and a study of Jaina iconography is mainly the study of subjects defined by the texts. There are, however, also motifs common to different traditions (Hindu, Jaina etc), and in such cases the definition of the subject is determined by both the form of the motif and the relevant textual evidence: e.g. compare the teacher-and-disciple motif (Bruhn 1986). Again we have to mention that our study is concerned with sculpture, and not with miniature painting.

The vocabulary of our study is extensive and may seem somewhat inflated if we consider that only the apparently simple issue of Jina iconography is under consideration. A distinction of the first type (Jina X vs. Jina Y) has no doubt always been accepted as important but according to the current view this issue should not cause too many problems for the specialist. As far as Jina iconography in its entirety is concerned (§§5-6 and 7-8), research seems to be sufficiently channelled by two well-established concepts:

  1. Regional style. It is obviously understood that differences of the Jina images are largely determined by the relevant regional styles which are in their turn defined in terms of period, province and patronage (dynasties etc.).
  2. Line of development. The historical matrix is likewise regarded as a broad basis for the description of stylistic as well as iconographic differences. Both concepts are no doubt indispensable in our context but not sufficient for an adequate and systematic description of the subject.

A note of caution is, however, likewise necessary if concepts of a more analytic type are considered. We mention only "classification", isolation of "form-principles" (or "generative principles"), and "segmentation". It is necessary to organize the material but this will never amount to a neat classification of all Jina images. A study of the "laws" governing the diversification of the iconographic vocabulary (Jaina iconography, Indian iconography in general) is a fascinating subject but we feel that the isolation, definition and systematic presentation of such "laws" (or "form-principles") is easier in Jaina literature than in Jaina art. Again Indian iconography shows a tendency to construct the images from a general stock of minor motifs or segments. Such segments can sometimes be described as "symbols" or "pictographs", and sometimes they are just stylized and formulaic renderings of a normal motif. It is possible to regard these segments as the material from which the entire universe of Indian art has been built. But although our approach is analytic we hesitate to explain the Jina images merely as combinations of separate component parts.

Under the circumstances, a systematic study of Jina iconography in its entirety requires additional categories and strategies.

§ 2. Slot-Filler Analysis

Medieval Indian art (more particularly the medieval art of Northern India) has often been described as "stereotype" (cf. H. Goetz 1959, pp. 139-40: "keine Möglichkeiten des Wachstums und der Entfaltung", "... schrieben die Theoretiker... beinahe jede Einzelheit vor"). Our discussion of the Jina images is largely connected with this uniform patterning or canonization. However, our starting point is different. We isolate the relevant trend already at a much earlier date and we shall define it in a more general sense below. According to our premise, this trend starts in the middle of the first millennium A.D. and is merely reinforced in the period referred to by H. Goetz (according to our time-table, the change took place ca. 1000 A.D.). For the reinforcement we use the expression "tightening" (tightening of the systems, see below). Also, we are only concerned with Jina images. There can be no doubt that the said development was wide-spread. However, there are also structural differences in the iconographic material (e.g. between Jina and Śiva images), and we therefore prefer to discuss the whole issue only in connection with the Jina images.

The said similarity of the images admits of a triple conceptual subdivision (based mainly on Jina images):

  1. Similarity of images of one and the same type (Jina, Buddha, Nvarāha, Sūrya etc. are different "types") in different periods and different parts of the country. A study of this similarity (infra-type comparison) covers the entire image. The similarity may be greater or lesser.
  2. Similarity of images which represent different types (e.g. Jina vs. Sūrya) but follow the same style (inter-type comparison). Here, the similarity is restricted to certain zones of the images. What matters is the fact that there is so much similarity at all.
  3. There is a third type of similarity which can be observed when related types (e.g. Jinas and Jaina goddesses) are also stylistically closely related. In this case we notice phenomena of assimilation and "demarcation" which are interesting for a systematic study of the respective iconography (§7). - Developments according to b) and c) will be found mainly in the period after 1000 A.D.

It is in the context of a) that we introduce the concept of "variety". A type manifests itself largely in different varieties": technically speaking, sub-sections, each having a large common denominator. For the isolation and description of these varieties we use what we would like to call "slot-filler analysis" (short note in Bruhn 1986, Section 5). We describe each variety as a system (grid) of different slots (Stellen, places) where each slot admits of different fillers (Stellenbesetzer, occupants). Images belonging to the same variety (to the same "slot-filler system") normally show same slots where the fillers differ in one way or another. The relative proportions within one and the same slot-system ("grid") are nevertheless largely similar, and fillers appearing in one and the same slot are usually similar in character. Also, one and the same filler will normally appear in one and the same slot. We mention two simple examples for "filler differences" in the early-medieval variety at Deogarh: The two GARLAND-BEARER slots at the top may show single male garland-bearers or male garland-bearers accompanied by females (JID 113: 114); and the CĀMARA-BEARER slots above the pedestal may show cāmara-bearers or divine attendants (JID 136 left vs. 136 right).

In our infra-type comparison we have so far only mentioned "varieties" (= slot-filler systems). However, this is only the key term. In studying a particular aggregation of Jina images it will generally be necessary to employ several organizing terms: varieties, sub-varieties, overlapping of varieties, isolated pieces. Ignoring for the moment the issue of this "family of terms" (further details in §4) we can say that each variety has "its" slot-filler system. "System" is thus a concrete term (equivalent to a corpus), and it will sometimes be used in the plural.- We avoid as far as possible non-terminological uses of the word "type" since this is reserved for the Jina (Buddha etc.) as such.

Slot-filler analysis is a very general term and not restricted to cases where we have established well-defined varieties. In principle, it applies to all the three remaining cases of a) - c), i.e. b) and c) and also a) in the sense of "type as such". - We mention here an instance of slot-filler variation within c): One of the numerous "frieze slabs" at Deogarh shows side by side an ācārya composition and a series of three standing Jinas (JID 210). If we isolate the slot CENTRAL OBJECT (motif above the head of the main figure) we discover in JID 210 that the filler is a miniature-Jina in the case of the ācārya composition and a "triple parasol" (triple parasol-top plus drum plus drummer) in the case of each of the three Jinas. This is remarkable because otherwise the ācāryas and Jinas have much in common (details in §7, third list). See Bruhn 1986 for the term "ācārya" (in the sense of "Jaina ācārya") and for JID 210.

Returning once more to Goetz's dictum and to the date limit of 1000 A.D. we have to say a few words about the "tightening of the systems". We define this development with special reference to our Jina images. Here we notice that the number of slots is on the whole increasing, that the differences within the series of the 24 Jinas (opposition "Ṛṣabha-Pārśva-Others", see § 5) become less conspicuous, that the uniformity within the variety is increasing, and that the similarity between Jinas and non-Jinas is also increasing. Besides, there is a general shift of emphasis: the individual iconographic motifs on the Jina images are now of less importance than the general aesthetic effect.

§ 3. Five Traditions

Most descriptions of Jina iconography present the subject as a system of 24 x 4 motifs; 24 Jinas, 24 cihnas, 24 attending gods, and 24 attending goddesses. In order to demonstrate the limitations of this quadruple system ("tetrad") right at the beginning (details in §9 below), we introduce a subdivision of Jina iconography with special reference to the question of characterization ("how many Jinas out of 24 are actually shown?"). Before presenting our subdivision we have to supply some general information.

  1. Ṛṣabha (special rendering of the hair) and Pārśva (association with snake-motifs) are distinguished from the remaining Jinas. This applies invariably to Pārśva and in the majority of cases to Ṛṣabha. The situation therefore necessitates appropriate categorizing of the Jinas, for example "Ṛṣabhas, Pārśvas, and Jinas who are neither Ṛṣabhas nor Pārśvas". In such cases we use, however, the shorter form "Ṛṣabhas, Pārśvas, Others". In more technical language we sometimes prefer the expression "Ṛṣabha-Pārśva-Others" ("Pārśva-Others" etc.). The term "Other(s)" refers to the "remaining block" where the Jinas are not distinguished at all or distinguished merely on the tetrad level (§9 end).
  2. The 24 Jinas form a fixed set. There are nevertheless three types which may come very close to the 24 Jinas: Bharata and Bāhubali (sons of the first Jina Ṛṣabha) and Jīvantasvāmin (a sort of Jaina Bodhisattva). See §7 for Bharata and Bāhubali. Whereas images of Bharata and Jīvantasvāmin are comparatively rare, we find Bāhubali images in many parts of the country. On the whole we may say that a description of the Jina iconography is incomplete if these three "Other Saints" are nowhere considered. The relative proximity of the three Other Saints to the series of the 24 Jinas does not depend on similarity alone but also on other circumstances.
  3. Pārśva is presented in more than one form. The differences are largely connected with the parallelism of two concepts: Pārśva pure and simple ("normal" Pārśva, the Jina shown with snake-motifs), Pārśva attacked by the demon Kamaha (the Jina shown with further motifs).
  4. Supārśva (five snake-hoods) is a doublet of Pārśva (seven snake-hoods). Supārśva is distinguished from Other Jinas merely by his hood-circle (with or without coils). Since representations of Supārśva are rare, we can ignore him in our general formulas ("Ṛṣabha- Pārśva-Others" etc.)

Tradition 1.

Jina images in Northern India up to ca. 1000 A.D. The formula is Ṛṣabha-Pārśva-Others. Occasional use of the cihna produces images of individual Jinas other than Ṛṣabha and Pārśva.

Tradition 2.

Northern India after 1000 A.D. The Ṛṣabha-Pārśva-Others distinction is on the whole reduced. Furthermore, characterization by cihnas (and inscriptions) gains ground.

Tradition 3.

Early Deccan (Aihole, Badami, Ellora). Pārśva-Bāhubali-Others. Rock-cut panels.

Tradition 4.

Southern India in general. Pārśva-Others.

Tradition 5.

Territories of the later Chalukyas and Hoysalas (11.-13. centuries). Tradition 4 is continued but now we find also characterization of Other J inas (frequent cihnas, inscriptions, and divine attendants).

Below we add a few details.

Tradition 1. The distinction between Ṛṣabhas and non-Ṛṣabhas is based on the rendering of the hair. See §5 B for details. Pārśva is shown in different forms (see above) but early representations with full emphasis on the Kamaṭha episode have not yet come to light. Images of Bāhubali and Jīvantasvāmin occur sporadically (images of Bharata are probably unknown). The cihna (simple or doubled) is not very common. Apart from the general rarity of cihnas we observe that only a limited number of Jinas -Ṛṣabha, Ajita, Sambhava etc. - are characterized in this way. See Tiwari 1983, pp. 3 and 8. Divine attendants are not rare: often a Jaina Kubera ("Sarvānubhūti") is shown to the left, and the Jaina goddess Ambikā to the right. - In Western India, standing Jinas are represented with dhoti, i.e. dressed, since the middle of the first millennium A.D. (Akota bronzes etc.).

Tradition 2. As compared with Tradition 1, local differences are now getting more pronounced. The following description is therefore based on the conditions in Central India alone (Deogarh etc.).

Due to the tightening of the slot-filler system, the Ṛṣabha-Pārśva-Others distinction is considerably reduced. The employment of lateral strands as a feature which distinguishes Ṛṣabha from the Other Jinas becomes inconsistent. Bāhubali, Bharata, and Jīvantasvāmin become more popular and are occasionally associated with the 24 Jinas. Representations of the entire series of 24 miniature-Jinas with minimal differentiation are found at some places (distinction between Ṛṣabha-Supārśva-Pārśva-Others). "Kubera"-and-Ambikā are now replaced by divine attendants of all description (in most cases also male-cum-female). This state of affairs lies midway between the earlier concept of general divine attendants ("Kubera"-and-Ambikā found with all Jinas: Tradition 1) and the 24 + 24 divine attendants of the literary tradition.

A representation of all the 24 characterized Jinas - or of a characterized subsequence (e.g. Jinas 1-4) - is possible on the basis of local attitudes. However, examples are very rare (Orissa) and partly earlier than 1000 A.D. (Khaṇḍagiri).

In Traditions 3-5, the posture of the seated Jinas differs from the Northern formula of traditions 1-2: the legs are not crossed but placed one upon the other.

There is no true parallelism between North and South, but the trend towards characterization of all the 24 Jinas (to be precise: of Jinas other than Ṛṣabha and Pārśva) is common to Traditions 2 and 5. The form of the hair (curls or not) has been ignored by us in the case of traditions 3 and 4.

Tradition 3. The dominating elements are in this case size rock-cut panels (Pārśva-Bāhubali-Others). The large Pārśva panels have full emphasis on Kamaṭha's attack (several formulas). Smaller carvings show Other Jinas and normal Pārśvas.

Tradition 4. A clear opposition exists only between Pārśvas and non-Pārśvas. Kamaṭha's attack against Pārśva is shown in a few early rock-cut panels. The Other Jinas show in a number of cases a conspicuous "upward extension" of the composition (tree or scroll-work).

Tradition 5. The system becomes more tight and gains in complexity although the number of motifs (slots) is here more limited as compared with the North. The hair takes the form of clearly chiselled locks (Jinas 1-24, Bāhubali). Cihnas, inscriptions, and divine attendants play an important part. "Minimal characterization" (cf. Tradition 2) seems to be well developed (PJA 17). The iconography of the divine attendants (i.e. of attendants as such and not only of gods and yoginī-like independent goddesses) is enlarged.

Noteworthy are the monolithic Bāhubali images of Karnataka and a series of 24 characterized Jinas in the Bhaṇḍāra Basti at Sravana Belgola (Settar 1981, pp. 55 and 61-63).

An important element of Karnataka Jaina iconography are the numerous representations of monks, nuns etc. This factor cannot be ignored in the study of the local art (Jinas etc.). See Settar l.c. p.46 (Sravana Belgola, Siddhara Gundu).

Our discussion of traditions 1-5 is not in the first place a survey since as a survey it would be rather inadequate. It is primarily intended as a matrix for the discussion of questions concerning the macroscopic structure of Jina iconography with due regard for rough regional divisions. Simple but necessary questions of the type "where do we find cihnas in Northern India prior to 1000 A.D.?" are at once stimulated by our fivefold scheme.

§ 4. Special Introduction to §§ 5-8

Although different in its approach to iconography, the present study does not suggest any changes in the stylistic classification proposed in JID. There, we distinguished between the early-medieval style (ca. 850-950 A.D.) and the medieval style (ca. 950-1150 A.D.). Basically, these "styles" included Jina images and other representations of Jinas - caumukhas etc. (a caumukha is a cube or a similar element with images on its four sides). However, the description given in JID considered mainly fully fledged Jina images, viz. Nos. 1, 13-226 (early-medieval) and 227-301, 307-319 (medieval). Our two varieties have now been designated accordingly and are based on these two corpuses of Jina images (215 and 88 images respectively). The earlier of the two styles is comparatively rare outside Deogarh although the area of its distribution may be wider than would appear at first sight. By contrast, the medieval style is well represented in Central India etc. Besides, we had based the very concept of the early-medieval style on Jinas because in this case the vocabulary of the other types is rather different. The situation is not the same in the case of the medieval style where the same idiom prevails throughout all forms of iconoplastic art (both Jaina and Hindu).

In the present paper, we have occasionally considered Jinas outside the two corpuses (e.g. Jinas on caumukhas) as well as non-Jinas. However, such extensions merely serve the purpose of clarifying the situation within the corpuses.

We shall now explain the "variety map" for Deogarh, supplying thereby also a paradigm for the execution of variety research (slot-filler analysis in connection with different varieties).

When isolating varieties one has to observe certain rules of economy. If we postulate only very few varieties then the execution of the slot-filler analyses becomes very complicated, the variation on the filler level or even on the slot level being too great. If, on the other hand, we split the material into too many varieties then the basic goal of reduction will not be reached. The early-medieval variety at Deogarh has nevertheless to be split into three sub-varieties: Pārśvas (standing), non-Pārśvas (standing), non-Pārśvas (seated). In the context of our §§5-8, it will, however, not be necessary to consider the subdivision of the early-medieval style into "drum-style" and "drum-leaf style" (JID Chapters 9 and 10; JID § 277 - especially fn. 1 on p. 233). It could be surmised by the reader that this dichotomy was originally connected with the difference between standing and seated Jina images, but it will be difficult to produce decisive arguments for such a hypothesis. There will be only one single medieval variety. Structural peculiarities which are not covered by our concept of four varieties will be discussed in §8.

Several analytic procedures have been proposed in iconographic studies which may appear to be related to our slot-filler approach, but they are actually quite different (e.g. compare Pereira 1977, pp. 76-86; see also JID p. 498). A discussion of these procedures can, however, not be given in this paper.

The arrangement of the material is not derived from slot-filler analysis but from the concept of "differentiation". Our first two forms of differentiation have been called internal (§§5-6) and external (§ 7) respectively. In the first case we ask "what distinguishes Jina X from Jina Y?" (infra-set differentiation), in the second case "what distinguishes a Jina from a non-Jina?" (extra-set differentiation). The set consists of the 24 Jinas, and all other figures (whether Jaina or Hindu or Buddhist) are non-Jinas. The differentiation is largely based on attributes, and we distinguish between personal attributes (Individualattribute, element-specific attributes: §§5-6) and generic attributes (Gattungsattribute, set-specific attributes: §7).

After the discussion of internal and external differentiation we have to examine the issue of image-image differentiation. The scope of this concept will be apparent from the facts presented in §8 below. Here we merely mention that image-image differentiation overlaps to a considerable extent on the first two forms of differentiation.

One and the same attribute (or non-attribute: image-image differentiation) may appear in different forms, and these have to be studied under the heading of "morphology" (§6). Morphology is concerned with the form of the motifs but not with their attribute value (characterizing value) and also not with their place in the composition.

Out of §§5-8, the first two sections present the situation at Deogarh in a detailed (though not complete) manner. §§7-8 are more general, but a number of examples have been drawn from the Deogarh material. Again, §5 has been divided into three subsections: A (the iconography of Pārśva), B (the hair of the Jina: distinction between Ṛṣabhas and non-Ṛṣabhas), and C (further motifs as found with non-Pārśvas.

§ 5. Internal Differentiation


On account of his peculiarities, Pārśva occupies a special position in the set of the 24 Jinas. At the same time, the iconography of this Jina is embedded in the general Jina iconography. We have nevertheless decided to relegate all issues specially related to Pārśva to the present sub-section a).

In the early-medieval variety, with the exception of the Section of the Late Images, we find only standing Pārśvas. (Iconographic facts of this type can easily be derived from the "List of the Images" in JID §330.) However, in JID 265 a seated Pārśva is seen on a somewhat untypical caumukha. Most of the early-medieval Pārśvas show coils to the left and to the right of their bodies in addition to the hood-circles. The right-hand male cāmara-bearer of the main system (non-Pārśvas) is often replaced by a female parasol-bearer, see JID 38 (here treated as survival of the motif of Kamaṭha's attack: §3, Tradition 3). There are no divine attendants and no cihnas. An unconventional handling of the attendant motif is demonstrated by JID 139a (CĀMARA-BEARER slot). Supārśva is rare in the early-medieval period, and in the case of Deogarh restricted to two cases where he occurs twice ("Supārśva-Supārśva motif"): one double image (our Fig. 5) and two miniature-Supārśvas on an early-medieval Ambikā image in the hall in front of Temple No. 12 (position at the time when JID was published).

Two seated Pārśva images belonging to the Section of the Late Images have snake-coils below the bodies of the Jinas (JID 183 and 340). This specific Section also demonstrates the way in which the system becomes more tight. Pārśvas and non-Pārśvas now become similar (JID 183: the snake-motifs and the female parasol-bearers are no longer prominent).

The Pārśvas of the medieval variety are standing or seated. The comparative rarity of seated Pārśvas at Deogarh (only JID 238 and 243) seems to be accidental since seated Pārśvas are quite common outside Deogarh (Budhi Chanderi, Shivpuri, Khajuraho etc.). Cihnas are practically absent (one example on a frieze slab). The female parasol-bearers have disappeared; now all images show male cāmara-bearers to the left and to the right. There are divine attendants of the common type (§5 C). Normally, Pārśva's divine attendants have hood-circles (and the attendants of Other Jinas have not) but there are exceptions to this rule: JID 198 (no hood-circles in the case of a Pārśva image); JID 242 (Ṛṣabha's Ambikā with hood-circle).

Special reference must be made to three Pārśva images: JID 238 (snake-coils below the seated Jina), JID 260 (cāmara-bearers replaced by theriomorphous snakes), a standing Pārśva image in Wall Section V (JID §233: cihna in the form of a bird).

Supārśva is found in two different contexts: either as part of double motifs (JID 207 and 264: Pārśva and Supārśva) or in 24-Jina compositions and other forms of Jina multiplication (minimal characterization: §5 C).

Our Deogarh monograph contains, apart from the descriptions of individual Pārśva images, three more analytic sections devoted wholly or in part to this subject: JID §§134, 233, and 265.

A special Pārśva motif - Pārśva-and-"Ṛṣi" - appears on the outer door-way of Deogarh Temple No. 18 (medieval; see Bruhn 1977, p. 378 and Fig. 6).


The strand motif is not restricted to Jina iconography but it has been used by the Jainas in a peculiar way. In connection with legendary tradition, one of the Jinas (Ṛṣabha) was shown with strands; the other 23 Jinas were shown with curls. Ṛṣabha's strands were hanging down on his shoulders, but strands on the head ("top strands" or simply "strands") and strands on the shoulders ("lateral strands") formed a unit and the lateral strands had no separate semantic function. Whatever the exact historical development, our sketch seems to be valid as a rough description of the situation prior to the early-medieval period in Central India. But afterwards Ṛṣabha was also shown with curls and non-Ṛṣabhas were also shown with strands. In this context, the lateral strands became significant as characterizing elements. Here we merely describe the situation found at Deogarh (early-medieval and medieval).

It seems that the Deogarh artists rigorously replaced the previous opposition (strands vs. curls) by the new opposition: absence or presence of the lateral strands. As a consequence, we have strands ("top-strands") with or without lateral strands, and likewise curls with or without lateral strands. It goes without saying that in the latter case at least the lateral strands were a somewhat inorganic addition.

Before we give the evidence which argues for our proposal we have to state that there will be a difference between the bare outline of our thesis and the details which must be added to substantiate it. The basic argument is as follows: We are concerned with the opposition between Ṛṣabhas and non-Ṛṣabhas. The latter are not characterized as such but we have a number of Pārśva images. These are provided with hood-circles etc. (never found with Ṛṣabha) and can be regarded as paradigms for all the non-Ṛṣabhas in the hair issue. Now, Pārśva images either have curls or strands but never have lateral strands. On the other hand, there are strand-images (= images with top-strands) showing lateral strands, and curl-images showing lateral strands; these are the Ṛṣabha images. And images showing neither hood-circles nor lateral strands of necessity represent the Other Jinas. This is the only plausible way of relating the archaeological facts to the traditional twofold opposition (Pārśvas vs. non-Pārśvas, Ṛṣabhas vs. non-Ṛṣabhas).

Before going into further details we present a list of Jina images at Deogarh which shows the sixfold subdivision on which our argument is based. We have included only those early-medieval Jina images which have been reproduced in JID. Since a single photograph may show more than one image, we designate here and in a few later cases the individual image by small letters (a, b, c... from left to right). Jinas on double images (two Jinas in a photograph) and caumukhas (two or three Jinas in a photograph) have likewise been denoted by small letters.

A few of the images listed in JID §330 have been excluded for various reasons.

  1. Ṛṣabha with strands and lateral strands: JID 44, 80, 81 (a, b), 82, 83 a), 85 c), 86, 87 a), 88, 89 b), 94, 95, 97 (= our Fig.3), 103(?), 105 b), 109, 116 (= our Fig.6), 129, 132, 350. - See also our Fig. 7 (Badoh).
  2. Pārśva with strands: JID 126 a, b (= our Fig. 5), 133 (a, b), 139 a), 167 a), 184, our Fig. 1 b).
  3. Other Jinas with strands: JID 85 a), 93 (a, b), 96, 108, 110, 111 (a, b), 117 c), 125 (a, b), 127, 128, 134 (a, b), 135 (= ourFig. 4), 151, 152, 156 a), 157 (a, c), 158 (a, b), 164, 165, 166, 167 b), 169, 170, 178 (a, c, d), 179, 185 b), 347 (= our Fig. 2), 360, 362.
  4. Ṛṣabha with curls and lateral strands: JID 187. - A good early medieval example is found in the Vajramath at Gyaraspur (our Fig. 8).
  5. Pārśva with curls: JID 36, 37, 40 a), 41, 42, 98 b), 100 c), 150, 183, 206 a).
  6. Other Jinas with curls: JID 7, 28, 40 b), 77, 79, 83 b), 84, 89 a), 98 a), 100 (a, b), 102, 105 a), 106, 107 b), 113, 114, 115, 117 (a, b), 121 a), 121 b), 123, 124, 136 (a, b), 137, 139 b), 140, 141, 144, 145, 146, 147, 147B, 153, 154, 156 b), 157 b), 161, 162, 163, 171, 172, 174, 176, 177, 178 b), 181, 182, 185 (a, c), 186 (a, b), 188, 264b, 274, our Fig. 1 (a, c).

In discussing the strands, we have to use a twofold distinction. The strands may be unplaited (JID pp. 479-80, except Fig. 348) or plaited (JID p. 484, except Fig. 358). Again, they may be "clear" or "faint" (e.g. JID 85c vs. 166). Only the second distinction is relevant to the present discussion. The reader may feel that this distinction between "clear" and "faint" has something to do with the opposition between Ṛṣabhas and non-Ṛṣabhas. It is true that normally "clear" strands are accompanied by lateral strands and stand for Ṛṣabha. However, "clear" strands are also found without lateral strands (our Figs. 1, 2, 4), and in that case even with Pārśva (one example: our Fig. 1). Thus the "clear" strands cannot have any significance within the frame of our hypothesis and an entirely new evaluation of the material is out of the question. See also our Figs. 3/4 ("clear" strands: strict distinction between presence and absence of lateral strands) and 5 (two Supārśvas with "faint" strands).

It is necessary to demonstrate the tendency of representing the lateral strands as separate attributes or mere "indicators" denoting Ṛṣabha. We refer only to the following cases: our Fig. 3 and the Gwalior Jina of JID 131 (no organic connection between the strands on the head and the lateral strands); our Fig. 6 (lateral strands merely incised into the surface of the slab); JID 89b and 132 (lateral strands merely affixed to the elongated ears).

In the medieval period, the entire system of distinctions has been changed. Strand-images disappear completely (as far as Deogarh is concerned) and the lateral strands are now less important. We recognize Ṛṣabha already from his cihna, and some of the Other Jinas (e.g. Candraprabha) are also characterized in this way (§5 C). The lateral strands are still compulsory for Ṛṣabha (JID 195a etc.) but from there they spread to other Jinas (JID 211: Chandraprabha) and even to Pārśva (JID 205c).

In the present discussion (§5 B), we have avoided references to the iconographic discussions presented in JID. There, namely, we omitted to clearly separate the iconographic - internal and external differentiation - from the purely morphological (see ibid. §265 etc).


We shall now discuss further motifs as found with non-Pārśvas.

In the early-medieval period, inscriptions mentioning the names of the Jinas are completely absent. Furthermore, we have noticed only one single Jina with cihna outside the Throne-Frame Class (standing Jina, Image No. 167, JID §154). This cihna is incised on an otherwise plain pedestal, and it probably represents a deer (cihna of the sixteenth Jina). It is only in the Throne-Frame Class, which anticipates in certain respects the medieval style, that we come across a few clear cihnas (JID 144, 146; §164). The divine attendants require little comment. The "Kubera"-and-Ambikā motif (tradition 1 of §3) is found on one or two images which slightly antedate our early-medieval period (JID 24, 25) and it extends right into the period under consideration (JID 136b, 186a, 264b). A fairly large number of early-medieval images have standing figures on either side of the Jina, and these could be called divine attendants. In some cases, the usual cāmara-bearers have just been replaced by other figures, similar or not (JID 83a, 88), in other cases the standing figures appear in special positions (JID 141 etc.: Throne-Frame Class). The "Kubera"-and-Ambikā motif has no true successor in the early-medieval period but is perpetuated by the divine attendants of the medieval period (see below).

Whereas the artists of the early-medieval period were preoccupied with the representation of huge masses of hair and large hood-circles (and not much interested in cihnas etc.), we now enter a domain where the other personal attributes gain some importance. There is still considerable emphasis on Pārśva (hood-circle etc.) and Ṛṣabha (bull-cihna etc.) but the tripartite pattern as such (Ṛṣabha-Pārśva-Others) has become obsolete.

The commonest cihna is in fact the bull cihna, and if the name of a Jina is mentioned in an inscription it is normally Ṛṣabha's name. However, there are also other cihnas, and in one case at least a Jina other than Ṛṣabha is mentioned ("Candraprabha": JID §236 and Fig. 211). We even isolated in JID two overlapping groups which demonstrate special interest in inscriptional references (names of the Jinas) and in cihnas: §§235A - 241, especially §§236-237.

The situation is analogous in the case of the divine attendants. Most care is bestowed on the representation of Ṛṣabha's attendants. However, the fact that Ṛṣabha is mostly shown with Gomukha-and-Cakreśvarī (which answers to the literary descriptions, compare JID 218) should not lead to the conclusion that the medieval artists paid considerable attention to the system of 24 attending gods and 24 attending goddesses (§3). Again we cannot identify Pārśva's divine attendants as Dharaṇendra-and-Padmāvati (the names in the literary descriptions) simply because they are shown with hood-circles (JID 232). The characterization of most divine attendants is vague (abhaya/kalaśa, abhaya/bījapūra etc.: JID 198, 232 etc.). We must also not forget a general question which arises in such cases: are the differences of the attendants due to the fact that the artists wanted to show different Jinas, or are they just part of the general differences between the images?

There are some cases where the rendering of the divine attendants attracts special attention. Sometimes the two goddesses Ambikā and Cakreśvarī are shown on one and the same image (JID 231b; see also Tiwari 1975: Ṛṣabhas at Khajuraho and Lucknow). Isolated peculiarities are found in the case of further Deogarh Jinas: JID 242 (male divine attendant of Ṛṣabha with elephant cihna), JID 264 (two standing Jinas - Pārśva and Supārśva - with extended pedestal iconography).

M.N.P. Tiwari noticed that the medieval images at Deogarh include one of the comparatively few cases where the Jina Nemi is characterized by special subsidiary figures (JID 197; see Tiwari 1973b). There are thus four Jinas who have individual characteristics (i.e. personal attributes other than those which belong to the tetrad), viz. Ṛṣabha, Supārśva, Nemi, and Pārśva. By contrast, Mahavira is only characterized on the tetrad level (cihna etc.). See also § 9 (end).

Even if all the Jina images of Deogarh were in situ we would not find a single serial, representation of a characterized sub-series, let alone a serial representation of all the 24 Jinas. Perhaps there is not a single case where even two Jinas following in the series one upon the other have been shown side by side. This is absolutely normal but an explicit statement is nevertheless necessary. At Deogarh, the only exception from this state of affairs could be expected from the frieze slabs (JID 210). But M.N.P. Tiwari's studies (1979 et alia) have rather shown that serial representation was not the concern of the artists. Refer in this connection also to the Jinas in the Navamuni-Gumphā in the Khaṇḍagiri where the arrangement is more regular but not fully systematic (Mitra 1959, pp. 128-29). By contrast, there was a tendency to represent different sub-types (in the sense of the triad "Ṛṣabhas-Pārśvas-Others") on one and the same icon or in a series: our Fig. 1 (caumukha), JID 97- 98a-b, JID 157a-b-c, and JID 185c-d (double image).

Miniature-Jinas are often multiplied, and in such cases we should distinguish between the mode of multiplication and the form of characterization. In the early-medieval period, we notice a number of images where the central Jina (main Jina) is surrounded by 23 or 24 miniature-Jinas (JID 88: 1 + 24; JID 89a: 1 + 23). This pattern largely disappears in the medieval period. Here, the artists preferred tritīrthikas - compositions with three Jinas, e.g. compare JID 211, top left and top right - alone or in combination with single Jinas. This produced in the case of the miniature-Jinas totals like 8 (JID 211: 3+3+1+1). However, some medieval images continue the earlier formula (JID 199). Again we find both in the early-medieval and in the medieval periods (more particularly in the latter) special slabs with 24 Jinas (and pillars etc. carrying even larger numbers of miniature-Jinas). One special slab of this type has been reproduced as JID 27.

A tentative typology is already interesting by itself. It demonstrates the difference between the various forms of multiplication. The old figure 24 is based on the texts, the figure 3 (with multiples etc.) is based on aesthetic considerations, and the figure 1000 (Deogarh Temple No.5: JID p. 34) demonstrates one of several comparatively late efforts to enrich the Jaina iconography on the basis of the Jina motif (Jinas instead of Jaina goddesses).

More important in our context is, however, the question of characterization. A Ṛṣabha image in Orissa (Mohapatra 1984, Fig. 116) has a central Jina (Ṛṣabha) surrounded by 23 miniature-Jinas, all the 24 figures being provided with cihnas. Such cases are probably not found outside Orissa. More relevant to Jina iconography in general therefore is a Ṛṣabha from Karnataka (PJA 17). All the 24 Jinas are shown on this image, but three of them - Ṛṣabha, Pārśva, Supārśva - are characterized (lateral strands, hood-circles) and thereby distinguished from the rest.

The same type of characterization (1-1-1-21) occurs obviously on a mutilated but much earlier Ṛṣabha image at Gwalior (Meister 1973, Fig. 3). Besides such cases ("standard form of minimal characterization") we come across others where the characterization is less or reaches the zero-point. It seems that Deogarh artists of the early-medieval period did not differentiate at all (i.e. all the 24 Jinas are identical: JID 88 etc.). In the medieval period, the climate changed, but it is not clear whether the "triad" Ṛṣabha-Supārśva-Pārśva has been duly characterized in all the relevant cases.


The present treatment of internal differentiation tries to tackle the relevant issues in a systematic and analytic manner. In JID we had not distinguished between the three forms of differentiation (our §§5-8). Instead of that, almost the entire treatment of the Jina iconography was subordinate to the inevitably complicated stylistic classification with all its ramifications, and the only discussion of a more general character was contained in §§261-265. In the case of Deogarh (and in other cases where the situation is similar) it seems, however, unavoidable to use side by side a more descriptive and particularizing approach (JID) and an analytic and generalizing approach (the present essay).

§ 6. Internal Differentiation and the Form of the Images

In the case of §5 it appears necessary to devote a special section to form problems (slot-filler system and morphology).

Every student of Indian art knows that the cihna appears below the Jina. However, the exact position of the cihna cannot be derived from a discussion like that given in §5. A normal enumeration of attributes does not include an exact description of their relative positions within the image. In the case of the cihna, it must also be remembered that in early Jaina art there is at least one example where the cihna is shown above and not below the Jina (Chausa: Ghosh 1974, Pl. 54A and B: two similar images). Furthermore it cannot be taken for granted that the cihna appears always exactly on the middle-axis of the image (we come across slight deviations of one type or another). It is thus imperative to fix the various elements (§§5, 7, 8: at present §5) with the help of a "grid" as it is provided by our slot-filler system. What applies to the cihna is also true of all the other elements: the analysis of the slot-filler system (§2) tells us where they are to be found (place in the composition), and it also tells us whether they "share" a particular slot with other fillers (thus, in the first place, the CĀMARA-BEARER slots are meant for cāmara-bearers but sometimes they are used for divine attendants).

A question which has a more specific bearing on personal attributes is the conflict between the Pārśva iconography and the main system or standard system as found in the case of the non-Pārśvas. It is true that we have established for the purposes of a general description several slot-filler systems (§4), and in this context a full system was allotted to Pārśva. But such a procedure does not render superfluous the historical question how the Pārśva iconography was integrated into the standard system underlying the majority of images. This problem of integration existed mainly in connection with motifs describing Kamaṭha's attack on Pārśva (PJA 121), but to a lesser extent also with normal Pārśvas (human figure plus snake-motifs).

Different from the actual conflict (details below) is the mere emphasis on Pārśva's as well as on Ṛṣabha's personal attributes. Emphasis was never prescribed, but before 1000 A.D. (and partially even after 1000 A.D.) the artists could choose between emphatic or exaggerated and unassuming renderings of the Pārśva- and Ṛṣabha-motifs, and they often favoured the first alternative. This option was suspended in the medieval period at Deogarh where all Jinas became uniform (tightening of the system).

The conflict between the Pārśva iconography and the iconography of the standard system started already at Mathurā. In the horizontal upper register of a carved slab - an āyāga-paṭa (Ghosh 1974, Pl. 3) we have a series of five motifs: Other Jina, Other Jina, stūpa, Pārśva, Other Jina. All the basic motifs except Pārśva have been provided with parasol-plus-garlands as central objects. In the case of Pārśva this was of course impossible on account of his hood-circle. At Deogarh we can make similar observations. Thus early-medieval Pārśvas have no bhāmaṇḍalas. In one case, the artist has provided a Pārśva image with a bhāmaṇḍala incised cursorily behind the hood-circle (JID §101: Image No. 26). A similar case is found at Gwalior (Meister 1973, p. 356 relating to Fig. 1 a: early-medieval Pārśva image). At Ellora we find as an alternative Pārśva reliefs where the bhāmaṇḍala is shown between the hood-circle and Pārśva's head (PJA 136 and 138; this formula was continued in the later periods).

Parasol and drum of the early-medieval Pārśvas at Deogarh were often reduced in size, or hidden behind the hood-circle, or perhaps missing altogether (JID 36-37, 99A, 167). In a number of cases (JID 133a-b, 139a), the drum is present but the parasol is missing.

Without pursuing the question of what we have called the "conflict" any further, we shall now direct our attention to the medieval period, where we observe the tightening of the system and the elimination of all exaggerated renderings. Here Ṛṣabha's strands (top-strands) have been replaced by curls, Pārśva's female parasol-bearer has been eliminated, and the snake-motifs of Pārśva are kept to moderate proportions. The bhāmaṇḍala is still missing on Pārśva images, but otherwise the elements of the top zone are fairly complete (JID 226).

The next topic of our discussion is morphology. This category applies to all motifs (§§5-8) but its discussion in §6 is justifiable. A motif is defined not merely by its designation (e.g. "cāmara-bearer") and position (CĀMARA-BEARER slot), but also by other features. In the case of the cāmara-bearers, there are for example differences in the posture, and this applies in a still higher degree to the garland-bearers (more particularly to the male figures). We describe such differences (posture etc.) as "morphological". Morphology is in many cases concerned with distinct formulas although there may just as well be transitions between the different renderings of a motif. The pedestals of the miniature-compositions on the slab JID 27 offer a good demonstration of strictly formulaic differences between the relevant motifs.

In the case of the cāmara-bearers we notice also differences in the objects held in the hands (e.g. "cāmara in one hand, lotus in the other hand" vs. "cāmara in one hand, the other hand placed against the thigh"). Here we are concerned with "sub-motifs", a non-morphological category which we intend to explain elsewhere in the context of a more detailed slot-filler analysis.

The number of personal attributes is limited. Thus "morphology" is mainly concerned with Ṛṣabha's strands and Pārśva's snake-motifs. The early-medieval Jinas at Deogarh (more particularly those of the Uncouth Class: JID §§99-106) show so many different forms of the strands that a precise historical and descriptive evaluation would require a separate study (see JID pp. 479-489; §338 s.v. Jaṭā and s.v. Strands). It must be remembered that even the basic distinctions (plaited/unplaited, clear/faint) have no attribute value but are of a purely morphological character.

The representation of Pārśva's snake-motifs (hood-circle, lateral coils, and coils below the body of the seated Jina) is fairly conventional at Deogarh but at other places one observes a much greater freedom of artistic expression (AB 17a, 22, 60 etc).

Before concluding this section, we have to discuss what may be called the cihna issue. The cihna is mostly found on the carpet hanging down from the throne-cushion or in the zone below it. What matters here is mainly the interesting fact that this micro-area does not follow the slot-filler principle. The cihna is seen above the dharmacakra or in front of it (JID 144 vs. 146); it is large or small (JID 220 vs. 221); it appears on the cushion or on the band below the throne-panel (JID 219a vs. 219b). A specific blanket-motif is shown with cihna (JID 221), and a related motif is seen without cihna (JID 212). The throne-blanket is unoccupied (JID 219b), or it is provided with a figure-motif (JID 243), or with a kīrtimukha-motif (JID 240), or with a prominent cihna (JID 194).

§ 7. External Differentiation

In the analysis of the Jina images we have to distinguish between the body of the Jina and the surrounding motifs. The latter are found on the majority of images in a greater or smaller number and form the so-called parikara (entourage). The classical attributes (objects in the hands etc.) are missing in the case of the Jinas, and it is precisely their absence which makes it so easy to distinguish a Jina from other figures. The Jinas are thus mainly recognized by formal features like the absence of hand-attributes, nakedness, frontality etc. which cannot be called "attributes" and for which no term is found in iconographic studies. We have to admit that, due to the influence of the general Indian approach to iconography, the bodies of the Jinas did not remain quite free from attached marks etc. The śrīvatsa is the earliest example, unless we also consider the equally old uṣṇīṣa. But all the body-attributes do not change the general picture very much. In the present section we shall merely concentrate on the parikara motifs.

As may be expected, our starting-point will be the old list of the aṣṭa prātihāryas (eight miracles) which supplies to some extent the literary basis for the parikara concept as underlying the Jina images:

  1. Aśoka-tree.
  2. Gods showering rains of flowers from the sky.
  3. 64 cāmaras: gods standing in the four quarters fan the Jina with sixty-four cāmaras.
  4. Bhāmaṇḍala.
  5. Gods beating drums.
  6. Triple parasol.
  7. Lion-throne.
  8. Voice of the Jina.

Our list is taken from Jinasena's Harivaṁśapurāṇa (3,31-38; see also 56, 115-118). For the literary tradition in general we refer the reader to the stimulating discussion by U.P. Shah (Shah 1975a, pp. 51 foll.). As far as the relation between the literary tradition (more particularly the aṣṭa-prātihārya list) and the archaeological evidence is concerned, we are faced with the following situation. The old texts are based partly on the iconographic conventions of the day, and partly on ancient legends. It is unlikely that in their turn the texts influenced the artists. However, one cannot exclude the possibility that the literary tradition to some extent contributed to the canonization of the concept of the Jina parikara. The de facto situation will, nevertheless, always deviate to a greater or lesser extent from the literary canon - as is demonstrated already by the "translation" of the aṣṭa prātihāryas into the Deogarh vocabulary. The list given below states the facts in their barest outline without making a distinction between early-medieval and medieval (one single exception in position 7):

  1. Double-leaf (simple or multiplied).
  2. Garland-bearers. If the male garland-bearer is accompanied by a female, then the latter may carry a basket with flowers.
  3. Two male cāmara-bearers. Sometimes the CĀMARA-BEARER slot is occupied by other figures.
  4. Bhāmaṇḍala. This is found with most non-Pārśvas.
  5. Drum and drummer. The drummer is shown in an abbreviated manner (hands only, protome only) or in full.
  6. Triple parasol (i.e. triple parasol-roof with or without stick).
  7. Lion-throne. This is found with seated and standing Jinas of the medieval period, but only with seated Jinas of the early-medieval period. Standing Jinas of the latter period have at the most a lotus in low relief on the otherwise plain pedestal.
  8. ./.

Although imperfect in many respects, the aṣṭa-prātihārya list gives us a rough idea of the parikara as found at Deogarh (and elsewhere). For further details we have to refer the reader to studies which will appear at a later date (or just to the descriptive treatment of Jina iconography in JID). At this stage we merely add that there is some difference between the iconography of the larger Jinas and the iconography of the miniature-Jinas (JID §189 and JID 374-376).

The issue now to be discussed is the distinction between attributes (generic attributes in this case) and other motifs (non-attributes). Garland-bearers hovering in the air are so common in Northern Indian art that nobody would call them "attributes" in any context. If we take their statistical frequency as the basis for our definition, we would have to say that only such motifs are attributes of X (whatever X may be) which are rare outside X but not rare in the corpus formed by X. On the basis of this formula we can say that the triple parasol is a text-book example for a generic attribute of the Jina: it is extremely rare outside the Jina iconography and extremely common inside it. The garland-bearers, on the other hand, are common inside the Jina iconography and outside it; they therefore supply a good example for a non-attribute. The statistical approach is, however, not very satisfactory. Statements about "rare" and "not rare" are often a matter of judgement. Also one has to decide whether the calculation should consider a particular limited area or India as a whole (or whether it should consider local and all-India evidence in a combined form).

There is also the possibility of eliminating the question (generic attribute or not?) altogether, and of using the method of slot-filler analysis for all local types (Jinas, Sūryas etc.) where it seems to work. This will automatically produce an overview so that we know - at least in a rough manner - which motif is an attribute and which attribute goes with which type.

Fortunately there is also a way to achieve more rigid standards in the attribute issue. We are referring to inter-type comparison according to category "c" in §2 supra (see also the reference to JID 210 at the end of that section). At least in the case of the medieval period at Deogarh we can profitably apply such inter-type comparison to Jinas (or rather to Jinas and non-Jinas). As indicated already in §2, the matter has always two aspects: "demarcation" (this reveals the impact of the prevailing canon) and assimilation (this demonstrates the interaction of different types).

1. JID 210 (frieze slab). If we compare the ācārya composition with the three standing Jinas we notice two differences in the parikaras. One concerns the CENTRAL OBJECT (see §2 supra), and the other is connected with the pedestal. Namely, below the ācārya composition we notice sthāpanā-disciple motifs (Bruhn 1986, Section 3) whereas the Jina pedestals have been provided with the usual lion-thrones. By contrast, the garland-bearers are common to both sides of the slab: the main ācārya to the left and the three Jinas to the right.

2. Tiwari 1974, Fig. 1. This is a frieze slab with two standing Jinas and the goddess Sarasvatī. Again the Jinas have the lion-thrones, whereas Sarasvatī is shown with her swan. Furthermore, the Jinas have the usual CENTRAL OBJECT (parasol-drum-drummer) whereas the corresponding place is empty in the case of the goddess. By contrast, garland-bearers (in this case only one garland-bearer appears above the goddess), bhāmaṇḍalas and adorants are common to all the three figures.

3. JID 266. Two adjoining faces of a caumukha show a Jina to the left and an ācārya to the right. The ācārya has a sthāpanā on the pedestal while the corresponding place on the Jina panel is occupied by the throne-blanket. However, the two figures (ācārya and Jina) do not only share the double-leaves (at the top) but also the disciples. The sthāpanā below the ācārya is flanked by two disciples (complete sthāpanā motif) and the Jina has two disciples flanking the blanket (and replacing the usual lions).

4. JID 248 is an image of a Jaina goddess. The parikara is rather elaborate and differs only in two respects from that of a Jina: the two cāmara-bearers are female, and the CENTRAL OBJECT takes the shape of a tritīrthika.

It is clear from the examples given that there was a good deal of osmosis between different Jaina motifs. However, we also see that the artists were rather scrupulous when representing the CENTRAL OBJECT and the pedestal: here the distinction between Jina and non-Jina was preserved almost invariably.

The situation is slightly different in the case of Bharata and Bāhubali. These two figures have almost been integrated into the class of the Jinas although the point of full integration is normally not reached. We mention the following examples:

5. JID 138. This is a Bāhubali image with full emphasis on the motifs connected with that saint. The image belongs to the early-medieval style without being particularly old or archaic. We mention here only one point: Bāhubali has a single instead of a triple parasol-top. This opposition is old (PJA 163: Jina vs. Bāhubali).

6-8. Tiwari 1973a, Fig. 5 (Bilhari, Bāhubali image); ibid. Fig.8 (frieze slab, corner showing Bāhubali to the left and Bharata to the right, face with Bāhubali); ibid. Fig. 9 (frieze slab, corner, face showing Bāhubali and two standing Jinas). In the last two cases, Bāhubali has the same parikara as a Jina. However, Bāhubali is shown without cihna, and in the case of Fig. 8 the cāmara-bearer to the right seems to be a female.

9-10. JID 206b (Bharata image); Tiwari 1983, Fig. 37 (same slab as Fig. 8 supra but face with Bharata). In the case of Bharata, the assimilation of the parikara to that of the Jina can never become complete because this saint is represented along with his 14 "ratnas" (jewels) which do not fit into the parikara for the Jina. However, in the case of JID 206b, the ratnas are so much reduced in size that the inattentive observer may take Bharata for a Jina ("tightening of the system"). Also, Bharata's body is shown in the same way as the body of a Jina whereas Bāhubali's body is always covered with creepers etc.

If we consider assimilation as such, i.e. without reference to the attribute issue we can add two isolated cases: The Jina JID 44 has above the triple parasol a miniature-Jina, seated on a lotus, instead of drum-and-drummer; the caumuka JID 265 shows one Jina with lion-throne and another Jina with double-deer (not face to face but dos-à-dos). The miniature-Jina was the usual CENTRAL OBJECT of the Jaina goddesses (JID 17 etc.), and the double-deer as such was common to the Jina and Buddha iconography (AB 11 and 4b).

The fact that commonplace motifs such as the triple parasol or the male cāmara-bearers function as "attributes" may come as a surprise. Here, it seems we are not concerned with a special discovery but rather with a different way of looking at the parikara. Nobody has ever denied that the parikara motifs have some significance, but they do lie outside the scope of the "classical" attributes and they generally do not help us to identify an individual figure (Ṛṣabha as Ṛṣabha, Varāha as Varāha). They are more general in character ("Jaina", "Vaiṣṇava" etc). Also they are mixed with non-attributes and purely decorative elements. Under the circumstances, we have thus to consider a fairly broad spectrum of significance: generic attributes in a rather narrow sense (Jina-iconography: the topic under discussion), generic attributes in their widest sense (Jaina-iconography), iconographic motifs which are not attributes (§8), and decorative motifs/features. That the first position has so far not been isolated properly is the reason for the comparative neglect of the parikara of the Jina.

§ 8. Image-Image Differentiation

A The first form of image-image differentiation (= A) is concerned with motifs/features which are not connected with either internal or external differentiation.

One could expect that we add to the study of personal and generic attributes a systematic consideration of such motifs which do not lend themselves to being classified as attributes, viz. to "non-attributes". Such motifs do exist (garland-bearers, adorants, bhāmaṇḍalas). However, at Deogarh and elsewhere their number is limited. Besides, it is often difficult to prove that they do not at all function as attributes (generic attributes).

Such motifs nevertheless play an important part in the present context. A subject that has already been mentioned is morphology (see §6 above). Here we add that the predilection for exaggerated proportions is not restricted to Ṛṣabha's hair and Pārśva's hood-circle. It may affect (often in the case of one single image) practically every motif, e.g. the seat-lotus (Shah 1975a, Pl. 5). Whenever the exaggerations are pronounced they may produce a conflict with the current slot-filler system, otherwise they can be considered in descriptive iconography or stylistic studies.

Decorative motifs/features have not been discussed in the present paper but they must be mentioned as an important factor within sub-section A.


We have now to return to attribute problems (see again §6 above). If we start from the premise that most parikara motifs are superfluous from the point of view of differentiation and hence "redundant", we can say that the presence or absence of a motif (normally an attribute) is in the first place a question of image-image differentiation. One image has motif X, whereas another image has motif Y or (more often) the relevant slot is not filled at all. Such an evaluation does of course not exclude the existence of certain rules concerning the absence or presence of motifs: Early-medieval Jinas at Deogarh always show "triple parasol and garland-bearers", but they do not always show the bhāmaṇḍala.

Differences falling under sub-section B are not necessarily connected with the presence or absence of motifs. But instead of enumerating further possible combinations in abstracto we mention the Deogarh images which show clear deviations from their respective slot-filler systems.

Those cases where the system has been extended in one way or another are of special interest. There are four early-medieval images which demonstrate in a clear (JID 8, 31, 44) or in a less conspicuous manner (JID 147A) a partial duplication of the upper zone. One medieval image has an intercalated central zone (JID 231b, see Bruhn 1985, Section 7). From the point of view of the Deogarh systems, the Navagraha frieze - frieze with nine planets - appearing on the early-medieval image JID 146 is likewise intercalated. It seems there was also a tendency to accommodate additional gods and goddesses on the pedestals of the more sumptuous medieval images (JID 264a, b; Ghosh 1974, Pl. 378B: Khajuraho). That some medieval images have a prolonged top section should likewise be mentioned (JID 226). In a few cases (early-medieval) the system is not extended but we find minor though conspicuous deviations from the normal arrangement (JID 137, 139a). In JID 37, parasol and drum have changed their places, a solecism which is almost imperceptible because the parasol is so small. We have to refer the reader also to two exceptional compositions: JID 264 (tritīrthika, central image missing) and again 231b (composition with five Jinas).


The present section introduces new forms of variety assessment or variety taxonomy. Apart from differences in terms of motifs and regional styles we come across pure image-image differences - images show the same motif in the same style but still differ considerably (JID 84 vs. JID 89a). Here it is not intended to use the term "image-image differentiation" only for cases where the style is exactly the same. We include also the wider field of cases where the regional style (province-period-patronage) is identical while the workshop or the sub-regional idiom is different (JID 7 vs. JID 28). To familiarize the concept of pure variety studies will of course not be easy since attention is normally focussed on date and identity.--- For the sake of completeness we add that, directly or indirectly, slot-filler analysis is relevant to all studies in infra-type differences, including differences between images from different regions and periods.

§ 9. The Meaning of Identification

We have given to the present section a title which applies mainly to our first issue ("empty identifications"), but which can also be connected with the other problems to be discussed.

The critical observer has an uneasy feeling if an isolated Jina in a collection (or even on an archaeological site) is identified merely on account of its cihna, perhaps a simple geometrical motif, as "Jina X" (e.g. as "Candraprabha" on account of the crescent cihna). This embarrassment is due to the fact that the cihna is only a small element in the composition. The artist was not instructed to represent "Candraprabha" but he was commissioned to produce a Jina image and in addition to that it was decided that there should be a cihna, in this case a crescent. The decision was probably not based on a particular preference on the part of the donor but rather on convention or coincidence. Perhaps the relevant workshop or artist specialized in a limited set of cihnas (bull cihna etc.); perhaps it was the intention of the donor to install an image with an unusual cihna. If such a reconstruction of the circumstances of the donation is correct in the case of a particular characterized image, we can speak of an "empty characterization" and accordingly also of an "empty identification". It is of course also possible to think of circumstances which are different from the ones outlined above. It is, for example, conceivable that the Jina Candraprabha enjoyed some popularity at a particular place because he played a part in the ritual or in religious teaching. In this case we have a specific context, and this context makes the identification meaningful. Thus everything revolves around the issue of context and we can think of a number of different sets of circumstances which may be of some importance. If there is an inscription mentioning Candraprabha's name (JID 211) we again have a context - although of an entirely different character. Needless to say, the context must be manifest. If there is no tradition about Candraprabha worship at a locality and if there is no legible inscription on an image, then we have (as far as our two examples are concerned) no context, and the value of the identification is reduced.

We admit that one has also to consider the size and frequency of a characterizing motif. A hood-circle is after all a noteworthy element on account of its size and a unicorn cihna (eleventh Jina) on account of its rarity. But in such cases we consider the individual motif rather than the image in its entirety.

A second problem can be described by the catch-word "over-interpretation". There was for example a wide-spread practice of representing miniature-Jinas above Jaina goddesses (mainly in the case of independent images of the goddesses). This was, partly at least, prompted by practical considerations: it seemed advisable to clearly distinguish by means of such an "indicator" the Jaina goddesses from the equally numerous and often similar female deities of the Hindus. Now, many Jaina goddesses were attendant deities (according to the "tetrad") and had "their" Jinas. Under the circumstances, it can therefore hardly be incorrect to "identify" a Jina above Ambikā as "Nemi" even though a "miniature-Nemi" normally has no attributes of his own. But after all he is identified by his context, the goddess Ambikā. We nevertheless call such identifications "over-interpretations". This is a convenient label to cover a number of different cases where the identification is based on indirect or unsatisfactory evidence.

Both tendencies, "empty identifications" and "over-interpretations" must be projected on the background of changing attitudes. We have the attitude of artists who did not characterize the Jinas at all (PJA 57); of artists who produced side by side characterized and uncharacterized Jinas (JID 143 vs. 144), and finally the attitude of modern scholars (and devoted Jainas) who are deeply interested in aspects of individuality and identity, and therefore dissatisfied with images where this aspect has been neglected.

It is perhaps useful to add a few remarks on the "tetrad" mentioned in §3. We are in this case concerned with the following four positions:

  1. the 24 Jinas,
  2. the 24 cihnas,
  3. the 24 male divine attendants and
  4. the 24 female divine attendants.

Position i) refers to the identity of the Jina, while ii) refers to the symbol indicating this identity. In addition to that we can extract from position i) also the mere name of the Jina as occuring in an inscription. An incised name has practically the same function as a cihna. Without going into details of the matter we may say that this system is intact: name, place in the series, and cihna are all fixed. Different is the case of positions iii) and iv). Here we can merely speak of three different realms: the literary descriptions (48 divine attendants and additional gods and goddesses), all the independent images of Jaina gods and goddesses, and all the gods and goddesses occurring on Jina images. More specific issues ("how far are the 48 divine attendants described in literature actually found on the images?") must be discussed on the background of this trichotomy. Refer also to JID §14.

It is necessary to distinguish between the tetrad as a corpus of uniform characteristics ("all Jinas have cihnas") and such characteristics as are only found with individual Jinas ("Ṛṣabha is the only Jina who is characterized by his hair"). See §5 C supra. However, in art we observe clear disparities in the handling of the tetrad: To a considerable extent, tetradic characterization is connected with Ṛṣabha and Pārśva, i.e. with Jinas who already have individual characteristics.

§ 10. Addenda

The present article can be compared with three earlier studies on specialized subjects: "1956" (wall-figures of a Khajuraho temple), "1969" (wall-figures of a Deogarh temple = Chapter 8 of the Deogarh monograph), and "1986" (ācārya motif at Deogarh). The common denominator of all the four enquiries is their "analytic bias". We cannot adequately explain the designation "analytic" as used in this context but we refer the reader to the definition of the word given in the Oxford Dictionary.

In connection with the present study, a new presentation of the iconography of the Jina images at Deogarh will become necessary. As indicated already in §5, it is desirable to complete the descriptive treatment as given in JID by a more analytic inventory. Such a supplementary study should be based on the principle of slot-filler analysis but it need not be elaborate: The material is known from JID and the method has just been described in a fairly detailed manner.

The present essay was no doubt largely concerned with method. But our argument was based on a limited subject: Jina (not Jaina) iconography with special reference to the Deogarh material. It was in fact not our aim to study iconographic method pure and simple but rather to study it within the limits of our subject-matter, the latter being defined in traditional and historical terms: Jina images / sculpture / Central India. We would like to add in this connection that any complex subject in Jaina art (or in Jaina culture generally speaking) requires a specific theoretical machinery.

This limitation should not be mistaken for methodic compart-mentalization. We have utilized observations made in other fields ("extension of the methodic canon": Bruhn 1986, Section 1) and it is obvious that elements of the present study, or just its analytic bias, can also be useful outside the field of Jina iconography, in any case outside the field of the Jina images of Deogarh.

§ 11. Selected Terms

JID 210, 270. - IJI §2 (end).
Aṣṭa Prātihāryas
aṣṭa mahā-prātihāryāṇi. GJ p. 253, fn.; IJI §7.
see Divine Attendants
JID 138. - GJ pp. 266-68; Pereira 1977, pp. 46-54; IJI §§3 (beginning) and 7 (third list).
JID 206b. - GJ pp. 266-69; Pereira 1977, pp. 48-49; IJI §§3 (beginning) and 7 (third list).


IJI §§2 (middle) and 6 (middle).
JID 265-66; IJI Fig.I. - JID §11; Shah 1974, pp. 483-85; IJI §4 (beginning).
IJI §2(end) and 7 (third list).
Cihna (Lāñchana)
Cognizance. - JID 144. - JID§ 12; Shah 1974, pp. 469-70; IJI §6 (beginning and end).
24 Cihnas
GJ pl. 22-23; JID §15; Tiwari 1983, pp. 124-26.
"Wheel of the Law". - JID 24-25. - GJ p. 253; JID §13; Shah 1975a, pp. 55-56.
Divine Attendants
IJI §3 (Traditions 1-2).
24+24 Divine Attendants
When we refer to the well defined literary sets of 24 male and 24 female divine attendants, we can also use the Indian terms (24 Yakṣas and 24 Yakṣīs). - GJ p. 362 and Pl. 24-27; JID §15; Bhattacharya 1974, Ch. II-III; Tiwari 1983, pp.127-37. - In our text we have mentioned the following: Gomukha-and-Cakreśvarī (first Jina), Ambikā (twenty-second Jina), Dharaṇendra-and-Padmāvatī (twenty-third Jina).
JID 140-41. - JID §13.
Early-Medieval (style etc.)
JID Ch. 7-10 (pp. x-xi); IJI §4 (beginning).
Frieze Slab
JID 210. - IJI §§2 (end) and 7 (third list).
Frieze-Slab Type
JID §231.
JID §13; IJI §7 (passim).
IJI §2 (middle).
Hoods of a many-headed cobra.
Jinas and Other Saints
IJI §3 (beginning).
24 Jinas
GJ p. 261; JID §15; Bhattacharya 1974, Ch. I; Tiwari 1983, pp. 124-26. - In our text we have mentioned the following: Ṛṣabha (1), Ajita (2), Sambhava (3), Supārśva (7), Candraprabha (8), Śānti (16), Nemi (22), Pārśva (23), Mahāvīra (24).
AB 9a. - Shah 1951; IJI §3 (beginning).
see Pārśva.
AB 11; JID 24-25; PJA 152-53. - IJI §§3 (Traditions 1-2) and 5 C.
Lateral Strands
see Strands.
Medieval (style etc.)
JID Ch. 11-15 (pp. xi-xii). - IJI §4 (beginning).
Other Saints
see Jinas and Other Saints.
see Triple Parasol.
IJI §7 (beginning et passim).
GJ pp. 293-96; Pereira 1977, pp. 44-46; IJI §§3 (beginning), 5 A and 6.
GJ pp. 266-70; Tiwari 1977, pp. 415-16; IJI §5 B.
Section of the Late Images
JID §§160-63.
Convenient designation for a small wooden stand used in the ritual.- JID 233; Shah 1955, pp. 113-14; IJI §7 (third list).
Chest-mark. - JID 192.
IJI §5 B.
Supārśva GJ p. 273; IJI §§3 (beginning), 5 A, and 5 C.
Throne-Frame Animals
JID 30. - JID §13.
Throne-Frame Class
JID §§147-51.
(Triple) Parasol
JID 30. - JID §13; IJI §7 (second and third lists).
The term is used by us to designate a composition where a seated Jina is flanked by two standing Jinas. - JID 264 (large tritīrthika, incomplete; three miniature-tritīrthikas at the top of the composition).
Cranial protuberance, found with Jinas and Buddhas. - JID 30 and 20a.
Yakṣa, Yakṣī
see Divine Attendants.


Our Figs. 1-6 have been discussed in §5 B. Mere numbers (e.g. in "JID 7") refer to photographs and not to pages or sections. - Above, the place within a section of this paper has been indicated in parantheses: e.g. 2 (end)". In the case of § 7 we have referred to three "lists" (pp. 168, 168, and 169-70). - Additional explanations of terms will be found in JID (Ch. 1 and Pt. Five). A few terminological comments are given below.
  1. Attribute. The word is used in its normal sense and has not been defined.
  2. Decorative. This is used to designate motifs such as the throne-frame animals, and to specify features on a motif such as the lozenges on a bhāmaṇḍala. Decorative motifs are often also known from architecture.
  3. Iconography. Roughly speaking, iconography is concerned with the motifs covered by §§5-8. However, these four sections show at the same time that it is difficult to draw a clear-cut line of demarcation between "iconographic" and "non-iconographic".
  4. Iconography of X. All the motifs found with X and all the rules for representing X.
  5. Motif. This is used in a general sense and it is not directly connected with slot-filler analysis.
  6. Early-medieval and medieval. Even in connection with "style" the two terms refer mostly to our two corpuses (details in §4, beginning).
  7. Type. Defined in §2 and rarely used in other sense
§ 12. Bibliography
Shah 1959.
Bhattacharya 1974
B.C. Bhattacharya, The Jaina Iconography. Delhi 1974. - Bibliography on pp. 145-64.
Bruhn 1956
K. Bruhn, "The Figures of the Two Lower Reliefs on the Pārśvanātha Temple at Khajuraho", in: Ācārya Vijayavallabhasūri Comm. Vol., Bombay 1956, pp. 7-35.
Bruhn 1959
K. Bruhn, The Jina-Images of Deogarh. Leiden 1969.
Bruhn 1977
"Further Observations on the Iconography of Pārśvanātha", in: Mahāvīra and His Teachings, Bombay 1977, pp.371-88.
Bruhn 1986
"The Ācārya Motif at Deogarh", in: Deyadharma (D.C. Sircar Comm. Vol.), Delhi 1986. pp. 179-87.
Ghosh 1974
A. Ghosh (Ed.), Jaina Art and Architecture. New Delhi 1974-75. - see Ch. 12, 16, and
22 for Central India.
Glasenapp 1964.
Glasenapp 1964
H. von Glasenapp, Der Jainismus. Hildesheim 1964.
Goetz 1959

H. Goetz, Indien. Baden-Baden 1959.
The present paper.
Bruhn 1969.
Meister 1973
M.W. Meister, "Āma, Ararol, and Jainism in Gwalior Fort", in: Journal Or. Inst. Baroda 22(3). 1973, pp.354-58.
Mitra 1959
D. Mitra, "Śāsanadevīs in the Khaṇḍagiri Caves", in: Journal As. Soc. 1(2). 1959, pp.127-33.
Mohapatra 1984
R.P. Mohapatra, Jaina Monuments of Orissa. Delhi 1984.
Murthy 1963
S.G. Murthy, Jain Vestiges in Andhra. Hyderabad 1963.
Nawab 1944
S.M. Nawab (Comp.), Jaina Tirthas. Ahmedabad 1944.
Pereira 1977
J. Pereira, Monolithic Jinas. Delhi 1977.
Sivaramamurti 1983.
Settar 1975
= Shah/Dhaky, Ch. 5. - Jaina iconography in Karnataka.
Settar 1981
S. Settar, Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa. Dharwad 1981.
Shah 1940
U.P. Shah, "Iconography of the Jain Goddess Ambikā", in: Journal Univ. Bombay 9(2). 1940, pp. 147-69.
Shah 1951
U.P. Shah, “"A unique Jaina Image of Jīvantasvāmī ", in: Journal Or. Inst. Baroda 1(1). 1951, pp. 72-79.
Shah 1955
U.P. Shah, Studies in Jaina Art. Banaras 1955.
Shah 1959
U.P. Shah, Akota Bronzes. Bombay 1959.
Shah 1974
= Ghosh 1974, Ch.35.- Jaina iconography.
Shah 1975a
= Shah/Dhaky, Ch.6.- Jaina iconography.
Shah 1975b
= Shah/Dhaky, Ch.26.- Jaina bronzes.
Shah/Dhaky 1975
U.P. Shah/M.A. Dhaky (Ed.), Aspects of Jaina Art and Architecture. Ahmedabad 1975.
Sivaramamurti 1983
C. Sivaramamurti, Panorama of Jaina Art. New Delhi 1983.
Tiwari 1973a
M.N.P. Tiwari, "A Note on some Bāhubali Images from North India", in: East and West 23. 1973, pp. 347-53.
Tiwari 1973b
M.N.P. Tiwari, "An Unpublished Image of Neminātha from Deogarh", in: Jain Journal 8 (2). 1973, pp. 84-85.
Tiwari 1974
M.N.P. Tiwari,"A Unique Tri-Tīrthika Jina Image from Deogarh", in: Lalit Kalā 17.1974, pp. 41-42.
Tiwari 1975
M.N.P. Tiwari, "A Unique Image of Ṛṣabhanātha...", in: Journal Or. Inst. Baroda 24(1/2). 1974. pp. 247-49.
Tiwari 1977
M.N.P. Tiwari, "Jina Images in the Archaeological Museum Khajurāho", in: Mahāvīra and His Teachings, Bombay 1977, pp. 409-28.
Tiwari 1979
M.N.P. Tiwari, "Jaina Tīrthaṃkaroṃ kī Dvitīrthī Mūrtiyoṃ kā Pratimā-Nirūpaṇa", in: Sambodhi 7. 1978-79, pp. 1-7.
Tiwari 1983
M.N.P. Tiwari, Elements of Jaina Iconography. Varanasi 1983. - Reprint of papers by M.N.P. Tiwari.
Williams 1982
J.G. Williams, The Art of Gupta India. Princeton 1982.


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Edition: 1985 HereNow4U online edition: 2011

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