European Private Collection
Pal, P., The Peaceful Liberators, Jain Art from India, Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition catalogue, 1994, no. 98b
Adhaidvipa is a unique creation of Jain art, and the paintings on cloth are an arresting combination of bold geometric patterns and striking colors. Large squares with floral borders that frame a central area of repeating elemental shapes resemble most closely the textiles and embroideries of northern India.
In Jain cosmography the universe is divided into three worlds: the upper, occupied by the celestials; the middle, by the mortals, including all sentient beings; and the lower, belonging to the damned and the disorderly. The most important among the three is the middle world, manushya-loka, or the world of the mortals. It is the place where liberation from the chain of rebirth is possible and where the Jinas are born. Paintings of this world have, therefore, remained particularly popular with the devout.
Both the oceans and the continents are rendered with great detail. The first ocean, known as Lavanasamudra (sea of salt), is filled with aquatic animals, human beings, and auspicious pots placed in an orderly fashion. The next ocean, known as Kalodadhi (black sea), features fantastic creatures, familiar animals such as elephants, chariots with human beings, and enshrined figures of Jinas receiving homage. The two outer continents have enshrined Jinas flanked by human couples in squares along the vertical axis, and the outermost continent, Pushkaradvipa (lotus continent), is fringed at its terminus by stylized mountains containing mostly animals in what appear to be caves.
The five cosmic mountains are indicated by hourglass forms in the center and along the horizontal axis. In the shrine each mountain is represented by a tier of Jinas. An identical array of enshrined Jinas with dancing females is in each corner. Each shrine contains three Jinas, all of them clothed and sumptuously adorned. Each is a siddhayatana, the shrine of a perfected being.
This freely-rendered painting shows clear Mughal influences, particularly in the figural style as well as the costumes.