Marble pillar from a Jain temple

Western India
11th century AD

This stone pillar is typical of those sculpted for the many Hindu and Jain temples built in mediaeval western India. Architectural elements in Indian temples are invariably covered in ornament - geometric patterns, foliage, animals and deities - transforming structural features into elaborate sculptures. This column shaft is square at the base, then octagonal and round at the top.

The standing female figures around the base are probably four-armed Jain deities. Above these deites are dancers, couples and an image of Ganesha.

This pillar was originally intended to be free-standing but the craftsmen changed the piece into a pilaster to go against a wall as the work advanced. The standing figure and other decoration on the reverse were thus smoothed down.

In ancient India marble was only available in western India. It was used in the late eleventh century to build the famous Jain Vimala temple at Mt. Abu in southern Rajasthan. This column may come from Mt. Abu or a related site.

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More information


P. Pal (ed.), The peaceful liberators: Jain (London, Thames and Hudson, 1994)


Height: 128.000 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1994.12-15.1


Purchased with the assistance of the Brooke Sewell Fund


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