Jain Pilgrimage, India, c. 1750, opaque watercolour and gold on cotton, 77 x 96 cm. Brooklyn Museum
Followers of India’s Jain religion recognise numerous sacred sites (tirtha) and have a long history of temple-building and pilgrimage. Since the 15th century, Jains have engaged artists to create two-dimensional images of sacred sites that serve as manifestations or avatars of the places depicted. Known as tirtha pata, these works of art vary in size and format. Some are small images symbolising monuments and narratives, while others present immersive cartographic views that allow Jains to communally experience mental pilgrimages. This lecture will examine some of the extraordinary tirtha pata made between the 15th and 20th centuries, and the fascinating cultural and historical information they hold.
Lucie Folan is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University writing on the history of Jain sacred-site images. She has worked as a curator of Asian art at the National Gallery of Australia and was instrumental in the establishment of the institution’s Asian art provenance project.
View the entire series here.