Indian Jain shrine from Gujarat.

Made in India, 1400-1600.

This small copper alloy Jain shrine represents a Jina, one of twenty-four historical Jain teachers who have attained complete liberation. Jain image worship is of a meditational nature and the Jina is seen merely as an ideal, a certain mode of the soul, a state attainable by all embodied beings. Jains stress the importance of austere and rigorous practices and also believe in the existence of a soul.

The shrine is part of a collection of forty-one Indian miniature bronzes assembled by the donor...


Small copper alloy Jain shrine or altarpiece, very worn due to puja practices, with silver inlays. The shape is semi-ovoid on a tiered, flared, cut-out, base. The central figure is seated in a padmasana (lotus) position on a throne with the hands clasped in the lap. There is silver inlay on the eyes and chest and on an umbrella-like canopy overhead. There are six other figures represented in the surrounding shrine, nine round star shapes on the base and the top of the surround has holes punched in it. There is a halo-like design behind the head of the central figure.


172 mm
105 mm
70 mm


The Jina sits on a cushion inside the shrine in the lotus position with his hands in the dhyana position (right hand inside the left hand in the lap, palms upwards) indicating a state of deep meditation. Above his head is a three-tiered umbrella, to the left and right of which are small fly whisk bearers, below which again are two small figures, one on each side. Two larger figures are depicted one each side of the Jina. Behind his head is a halo-like design in the shape of a many pointed star or flower.

The nine holes in the base of the shrine represent the nine planetary deities. The back of the shrine is quite plain but appears to have been inscribed at one stage, possibly with the name of the Jina or with a devotional message from the donor. Silver inlay has been used to mark the eyes, the srivatsa mark on the middle of the chest, and the parasol.

The shrine is copper alloy, probably cire perdue (lost wax) method. While said to have been made in Gujurat, Dr P Pal, in 'The Peaceful Liberators, Jain Art from India', states that most bronzes of the early period reveal high copper content, which remained the case in many parts of India. In Gujurat and Rajasthan, however, shiny brass became the favorite material from about the ninth century.


Small bronze figures like this, representing deities from the Hindu pantheon or the great Hindu epic poems, were made in large quantities throughout India for use in temples, in domestic shrines and by pilgrims. Small figures were more cheaply produced and were portable.

Part of a collection of small bronze figures assembled by the donor. Most of them portray a variety of deities from India's Hindu pantheon and heroes of the Indian epic poems the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, although this small shrine is Jain. The donor purchased the first two pieces for this collection from Spink in London in 1968, and the rest from a variety of sources during the 1990s. This piece was acquired in March 1999 from Spink in London for 1700 pounds.


Donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program by Alastair Morrison, 2003
13 October, 2003

Cite this Object

Indian Jain shrine from Gujarat. 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 November 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Indian Jain shrine from Gujarat. |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Store 1 at the Museums Discovery Centre.
Know more about this object?
Have a question about this object?