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The complete text of the Bhagavadgita

[Sanskrit devotional]. Illuminated Hymns in Praise of Lord Visnu.

India/Pakistan, late 19th/early 20th c.

Ca. 14,5 x 10 cm. 230 country-made paper leaves, 192 of which are written folios, 14 are miniatures, the remainder blank. Text foliated 1-192. Some rubrication. Sewn with a thick cotton string, cloth covers with floral motives and an embroidered headband.

A devotional compilation in Sanskrit, written in Gurmukhi script. The bulk of the manuscript, fols. 7 to 163, consists of the complete text of the Bhagavadgita, the famous Hindu devotional poem. The six preceding folios contain a purificatory prayer to be recited before reading the Bagavadgita. Folios 163-192 contain three devotional hymns: eight verses in praise of Lord Rama, a devotional poem called "Saragita", and a further prayer in Rama's honour. The text is written in black glossy ink with rubricated punctuation marks; significant words, such as chapter titles, are also written in red. The text is elegantly laid out with six lines per page enclosed within a black, yellow and red rectangular border, surrounded by ample margins. The 14 fine miniatures in Pahari style, with opaque water-based pigments and gold, depict devotional scenes. The first ten are systematically inserted at the end of each of the first ten chapters of the Bhagavadgita and show Lord Visnu in his ten principal manifestations.

Edges trimmed with traces of saffron colouring. Minimal traces of age at the edges, intact except for a torn corner in folio 151; altogether in good condition. The state of preservation and the script suggest that the manuscript was produced in the Punjab region (now North-Western India and South-Eastern Pakistan) towards the end of the 19th or in the early 20th century.