Making and experiencing Jaina pilgrimage: the enduring art of Śatruñjaya paṭa
(Australian National University)
Paper short abstract:
Paintings (paṭa) that map the Jaina site of Mount Śatruñjaya have a long and continuing history. This paper draws on empirical study and engagement with contemporary creators and users to explore the evolving iconography of Śatruñjaya paṭa and their use as visualizations and analogues of pilgrimage.
Paper long abstract:
Images of sacred sites, tīrtha or kṣetra, appear abundantly in Jaina art, reflecting the importance of place in mythology, devotion and identity. Large map-like paintings of Mount Śatruñjaya in Gujarat are prominent within the Śvetāmbara Mūrtipūjak (white-clad, image-worshipping) sect. These Śatruñjaya paṭa have been continuously created for ceremonial use or pilgrimage commemoration since the 18th century or earlier. The paintings depict scale, orientation and distance inconsistently, but effectively map the site through a composition roughly emulating the physical layout of architectural structures, paths and nearby towns. Animated by pilgrims, ascetics, townspeople, fauna, flora and celestial beings, the scenes are immersive analogues of pilgrimage that reinforce both the temporal activities of a Jaina religious centre and its allegorical associations. Darśana (seeing) of Śatruñjaya paintings allows viewers to mentally traverse the sacred landscape.
Empirical study of published and unpublished Śatruñjaya paṭa from Indian and international public, private and temple collections illustrated a degree of consistency in composition and imagery, as well as significant developments over time. This paper seeks to explore the changing iconography of Śatruñjaya paṭa, and implications for experiential efficacy. Along with the extended range of primary documents, the study will draw on field research to be conducted in early 2016, primarily interviews with paṭa artists working in hereditary guilds near Śatruñjaya, recent patrons and Śvetāmbara Mūrtipūjak adherents. Recording and analysing the views of contemporary producers and users, largely absent from existing academic discourse, will enable new understanding of the psychosocial mechanisms of Śatruñjaya paṭa and pilgrimage visualisation in India.
Spatial and visual dimensions of pilgrimage in South Asia