Head of a Jain Tirthankara

Illustration

James Blake Wiener
by
published on 16 January 2018

This head belongs to a jina ("conqueror" or "liberator"), a Jain saint who severed the chain of rebirth and achieved a state of omniscience known as nirvana. Jains believe that there have been 24 jinas, each of whom is known as a tirthankara or "forder," one who fords the gaps between the phenomenal world and liberation. The wide, staring eyes and fullness of the face are characteristic of Mathura sculpture under the Kushan dynasty. The softening of the mouth towards a smile, the relatively elongated earlobes, and the large curls exemplify the changes occurring in late Kushan sculpture at Mathura that would eventually become the Gupta style by the early 5th century CE. This sculpture from India is made of sandstone and dates from c. 50-320 CE. (Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Stanford, California)



About the Author

James Blake Wiener
James is a writer and former Professor of History. He holds an MA in World History with a particular interest in cross-cultural exchange and world history. He is a co-founder of Ancient History Encyclopedia and its Communications Director.

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