Central to Jainism, which began in India in the 6th century BCE, are 24 enlightened beings known as Jinas. From the 14th century, visiting places of significance in the lives of the Jinas became a popular devotional act. A tradition of displaying maps of these sacred sites also developed, allowing viewers to obtain spiritual merit equivalent to that gained by the pilgrims.
The upper portion of this painting depicts the mountain temple complex of Shatrunjaya which is associated with the first Jina, Rishabhanatha. In the lower-right quadrant, identified by an enshrined image of the dark-skinned Jina Neminatha, is Mount Girnar where Neminatha achieved enlightenment. The painting presents the journey of a group of pilgrims in spotted robes visiting shrines and venerating Jina images as they ascend both mountain peaks.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label