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Tirthankara

9th-10th century

Andhra Pradesh or Tamil Nadu, India

Copper alloy

H. 11 x W. 8 x D. 5 in. (27.9 x 20.32 x 12.7 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.12


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There are twenty-four tirthankaras ("ford-makers") or jinas ("victors") in the Jain pantheon. This jina's erect posture and the position of his hands and legs indicate meditation. His idealized body is similar to that of Buddhist and Hindu deities and denotes advanced spiritual development. The diamond-shaped form in the center of his chest (shrivasta) is an auspicious mark which signifies a jina's superhuman qualities. The nakedness of this image indicates that it belongs to the Digambara or "sky-clad" sect of Jainism, the more austere of the two primary branches of the religion.