National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of John McCarthy through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, 2012
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Gordon Darling Foundation
In Jain cosmography the universe has three worlds; the upper, occupied by divine beings, the middle by mortals and the lower realms which belong to the ‘dammed and the disorderly’ (Pal 1994: 223). This painting represents the middle world, manushyaloka, which is the place where Jinas are born and where escape from rebirth is possible. These images are thus very popular. They are often called adhai dvipa pata (paintings of two and a half continents), because each is designed as a series of concentric forms which represent bands of oceans and land masses. The last land mass on the outer edge is the third continent, and only half is shown as it is said to end abruptly at a chain of mountains. The painting on offer is characteristic of adhai dvipa pata, in which the blue sections represent water, the buff areas show land, and the central circle represents the continent of the wood-apple tree, including India with Mount Meru at the centre.