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Framing the JinaNarratives of Icons and Idols in Jain History$
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John Cort

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385021

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385021.001.0001

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The Archaeology of Jina Images

The Archaeology of Jina Images

(p.17) 1 The Archaeology of Jina Images
Framing the Jina

John E. Cort (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a thorough overview of the scholarly evidence from archaeology (both images and inscriptions) and Jain texts concerning the earliest history of Jina images. According to the present scholarly understanding, the Jina image emerged from the Buddha image in the region around Mathura. Jina images were in existence possibly in the second century BCE, and certainly by the early years of the first century BCE. The earliest images are of stone, and there is little convincing evidence for a pre‐stone image tradition in other media. Bronze Jina images emerge slightly later. Textual evidence comes later than archaeological evidence, and shows that by the early centuries CE the Jains had developed an elaborate ritual culture of Jina images. Art historians have often complained of the relative lack of variety in the iconography of Jina images. The chapter directly addresses this critique, and by framing an understanding of the Jina image in the twentieth‐century Minimalist style shows how geometrical and symmetrical minimalism have allowed the Jains to express the Jain ideals of perfection in plastic form. The chapter concludes with a brief description of the rituals of worship and veneration of Jina images.

Keywords:   archaeology, Buddha image, iconography, Jina image, Mathura, Minimalism, pre‐stone sculpture, veneration, worship

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