Previous Item | Carlos Cruanas Main Gallery | Next Item
Contact Carlos Cruanas

Carlos Cruanas

1. Cauvisi with Jina Parsvanatha
Madhya Pradesh, India
10th century AD
h. 64 cms

Cauvisi with Jina Parsvanatha

The Hindi Word cauvisi means 24, the number of tirthankaras in Jain cosmology. Although it is difficult to distinguish them in this piece because a fragment is missing, we can count eleven on the left and and twelve on the rigth by following the simetry of the image, i.e. there should be one more in the top third, where the feet are still preserved. This would give us a total 23, wich, together with the central figure, would make 24.

The main figure of the composition is Parsva, the 23rd Jina, seated in the lotus position (padmasana) on a throne supported by two lions and over wich a robe bearing another lion’s head is draped. The nakedness of the figure indicates that belongs to the digambara sect of Jains. His hands are in the meditative gesture or mudra (dhyana). Above his head is the Naga or the serpent with seven heads. The srivatsa, auspicious simbol is carved in the middle of the his chest. He is surrounded by seated and standing jinas, all naked, making up the twenty four tirthankaras that appear on earth every cosmic age to establish the ascetic and secular order and preach the ways of Jainism. Padmavati (Lakshmi) is seen in the lower rigth hand corner, and in the lower left hand corner (now missing) would be Dharanendra, the two yakshis associeted with Parsvanatha.

The stylized, lithe phisiognomy, typical of this period, would gradually be replaced by rounder, more voluminous figures in the later images. This is an extraordinarily majestic image despite its simplicity and the gentleness and peace transmited by Parsva’s face. It seems probable than more tan one sculptor may have worked on this piece, if we compare the fine quality of the figures of pàrsva, Padmavati and the lions with the smaller jinas.

Other tan Risbanatha, Parsva is the only jina who is easely recognizable at first sight, because he is always depicted with the serpent Dharanendra, King of the Nagas, to protect him. The image of a seer enlightened under a tree in the heart of the forest and shielded by a serpent dates from very ancient times. All three Indian religions ( Jainism, Buddhism an Hinduism) clearly drew mytology, iconography and legends from the popular repository and ancestral cult of the serpent.

Tradition maintains that Parsva lived in the city of Benares, c 8th century BC. Experts tend to subscribe to the historicity of this last but one. The hagiographies of Parsva tend to go back to his earlier incarnations to explain the mysterious mechanism of the law of cosmic retribution (karma-samsara). Following the archetipical pattern of all Jinas in what would be his last existence, “he renounced the world and became a houseless wanderer, determined not to loose any more time in the ocean of tranmigration” .In the heart of the forest, he resisted the last opportunities of attachment and passion and, with the help of the Nagas Dharanendra and Padmavati, attained ominiscence (kevala-jnana)

Published in the catalogue  Arte Sagrado en las Tradiciones Indicas (Sacred art in the Indic Traditions)
Casa Asia, Barcelona 2005
FundacionCaixa de Girona 2005

Provenance: European collection

Price On Request

all text & images © Carlos Cruanas

Previous Item | Carlos Cruanas Main Gallery | Next Item
Contact Carlos Cruanas