The “Emile Senart collection” of Indian manuscripts (which was first described by Jean Filliozat in 1936) contains about 300 items, mostly written on Indian paper between the 15th and the 19th cen
The “Emile Senart collection” of Indian manuscripts (which was first described by Jean Filliozat in 1936) contains about 300 items, mostly written on Indian paper between the 15th and the 19th centuries. Jaina works form the majority of the texts. The consultation of the archives of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and of the Société asiatique has helped to understand precisely how this collection was built and how it entered the Bibliothèque nationale. The manuscripts were bought in Western India by Alfred Foucher during his official mission of 1895-1897 at the instigation of Emile Senart, and included in the latter’s private collection before being given to the Institut de Civilisation Indienne and then to the Bibliothèque nationale between 1930 and 1937. Foucher’s diary shows how he was helped in the acquisition of manuscripts by Indian pandits who worked as agents for the British government, including Gauri Shankar and Bhagavandās Kevaldās. The latter, in particular, is known to have helped several Western scholars in acquiring manuscripts from Gujarat. The “Senart collection” does not include many illustrated manuscripts. The Kalpasūtra manuscript with 36 miniatures was described earlier (BEI 2, 1984). But during the systematic cataloguing of the Jaina manuscripts (undertaken by Jérôme Petit in Spring 2008), an illustrated manuscript of Munidevasūri’s Śāntināthacarita, which is very fragile and does not seem to have been opened by anyone before, was “discovered”. The second part of the paper is devoted to the iconographic description of its three miniatures. Another remarkable feature of this manuscript is its detailed colophon, which provides a date (V.S. 1496 = 1439) but also information on the main parties involved in the production of the manuscript. The sponsor is a laywoman from Patan, Khetū (who is socially defined through the list of her male family members). She belonged to the NavalakIa branch of the Oswal caste and acted at the instigation of Jinasāgarasūri, a Śvetāmbara monk of the Kharataragaccha, who also belonged to the ame branch of the same caste before he was ordained. His name recurs along with names of laypeople having the same social origin in several inscriptions dating back to the same years. Such patterns document the special connections existing between caste and monastic lineage in the Jaina community.
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