Published Sep 30 2013, by

Jain Temple Columns


These ornately carved columns come from the Jain temple complex in northwestern India.  Jainism is a South Asian religion with a history of more than 2,500 years founded on the principle of ahimsa: non-violence and non-injury to all living beings.  Wealthy Jain patrons, who served as ministers in the Rajput courts of Gujurat and Rajasthan, built extensive temple complexes from the 10th through 16th centuries.  Similar to the elaborate Hindu temples built at this time by the ruling Rajputs, these Jain complexes featured a variety of architectural structures, including open-air mandapa shrine-pavilions composed of elaborately carved pillars and ceilings.  The sculptural imagery carved in relief draws extensively on vegetal and floral designs rendered with geometric regularity.  These images include scrolling vines, leaves, and flowers inscribed within diamonds, triangles, and rectangles each specifically chosen for its association with the lives of the twenty-four Jain tirthankara (saints) to whom these shrines were dedicated.