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Pilgrimage Scroll from Rajasthan

A Pilgrimage Scroll (tīrthapaṭṭa) from Rajasthan: Visual Journeys and Confluences of Devotion at the three Cities of Gayā, Kāśī and Prayāg

Koordination: Jörg Gengnagel, Eric Decker

Zusammenfassung

Pilgrimage Scroll - Tīrthapaṭṭa. 
New Delhi: National Museum; acc. no. 56. 59 / 58, Mewar, Rajasthan, circa 1700, 178 x 70 cm. 
Language: Sanskrit / Rājasthānī, Script: Devanāgarī. Painted on cloth.
Courtesy of the National Museum, New Delhi.

Pilgrimage Scroll - Tīrthapaṭṭa.
New Delhi: National Museum; acc. no. 56. 59 / 58, Mewar, Rajasthan, circa 1700, 178 x 70 cm.
Language: Sanskrit / Rājasthānī, Script: Devanāgarī. Painted on cloth.
Courtesy of the National Museum, New Delhi.

This project started in early 2016 and is creating a fully annotated digital representation of a pilgrimage scroll from Rajasthan, India. The scroll is in form, style and content a unique representation of sacred spaces.

The Scroll

Painted on cloth, this tīrthapaṭṭa from Mewar has a size of 178 x 70 cm. Dating back to the beginning of the 18th century it depicts from top to bottom the three pilgrimage places Gayā, Kāśī (Vārāṇasī) and Prayāg (Allahabad).  Although it is on display at the National Museum in New Delhi, its structure and content have not yet been studied. The National Museum has now kindly provided high quality reproductions and generously granted the rights for online publication.

Presentation

The interactive presentation will offer an identification of the more than 550 objects, a complete reading of all legible inscriptions, as well as a first documentation of the structure of the map. An important characteristic of the three cities’ sacred territory is their complex waterscape: confluences of the rivers Gaṅgā and Yamunā as well as Asi and Varaṇā are depicted on the map as well as numerous wells and ponds. Mythological scenes, such as the depiction of the families of Śiva and Viṣṇu in a central position, frame the visual journey through the three cities. In addition to numerous shrines and temples, ritual specialists, saints and ascetics of various traditions can be identified.

Analysis

Our analysis of the scroll makes use of the HyperImage platform and expands the successful results presented with the "Mirror of Kāśī (Kāśīdarpaṇa 1876)".  While the "Mirror of Kāśī" has to be seen as part of a specific category of visual representations of space, which flourished in Banaras itself and made use of new printing technology introduced during the 19th century, the pictorial map "Pilgrimage Scroll from Rajasthan" does represent a completely different category of visualisation of pilgrimage spaces. The tīrthapaṭṭa, rather than picturing a single place, hints at the interconnectedness of pilgrimage sites, thus illustrating well-diffused patterns of Indian sacred geographies, such as the overlapping and multiplicity of places. In contrast to the Mirror of Kāśī that clearly draws on local expertise and  spatial knowledge, the Pilgrimage Scroll relates to practices of royal patronage dominant in Rajasthan.

The project benefits from new HyperImage functionalities that have been developed in the course of the "Hachiman Digital Handscrolls Project", directed by Melanie Trede. The development of these functionalities have been made possible by the universities strategic investment in the "Field of Focus 3 - Core Facilities" funding line.

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