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Jain Shrine, Siddhapratima Yantra

Delhi Sultanate period

Bronze, copper alloy, traces of gilding, silver
H: 21.9 W: 13.1 D: 8.9 cm

Purchase F1997.33

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This Jain altarpiece is a rare example that features the "presence" of a jina (victor) by suggesting his absence from this world of karma; his form is carved out of the copper sheet that forms the backdrop for this shrine, leaving behind an empty silhouette. Such images were created only by followers of the Digambara Jain tradition of the sky-clad (unclothed) monks, as opposed to the Shvetambara, or white-clad sect. The images are known as siddha-pratima yantra, or "magical diagram depicting a perfected being."

The shrine itself, a replica of a pillared niche, is elaborately carved. Substantial traces of the gilding that once covered it are visible, while a silver inlaid inscription informs us that the shrine was commissioned in 1333 by the merchant Muladeva of the renowned Gurjara family.

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