Jain Digambara Tirthanhara Standing in Kayotsarga Meditation Posture

Period: Chalukyan period

Date: 9th century

Culture: India (Karnataka)

Medium: Copper alloy

Dimensions: H. 13 1/8 in. (33.3 cm); W. 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm); D. 2 in. (5.1 cm)

Classification: Metalwork

Credit Line: Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1995

Accession Number: 1995.423


The tirthankara is shown in a specific Jain meditation pose known as kayotsarga (the position of "abandoning" the body), erect and symmetrical, with feet slightly apart and firmly planted on the ground, the body's weight evenly distributed on unbent legs. The hanging arms and hands never touch the body. Animating and energizing this sculpture is the distinctive physiognomy, suggestive of a portrait. The singular expression is not that of concentration or the withdrawn serenity of meditation, but suggests that this enlightened, gentle being, his face radiating a lively intelligence, is poised to deliver some great compassionate message.

The wide sloping shoulders flow gently into the elegant curves of the canonically correct long arms and large hands. The broad chest tapers to a narrow waist and, in profile, the stomach is full. Muscle, bone, and vein are not depicted. Instead, the expansive pressure of the sacred inner breadth (prana) makes the skin taut and smooth. The contours of the body are elegant and masterfully controlled.