Miniature Bhagavadgita manuscript

[Bhagavadgita]. Miniature Bhagavad Gita manuscript.

Probably Kashmir or Punjab / Northern India, ca. 1845 / mid-19th century CE.

Ca. 94 x 60 mm. Sanskrit manuscript on polished paper. 222 leaves, 5 lines of Devanagari script in black ink within red, orange, and black rules, some phrases picked out in red, some words gilt. With 14 charming miniature illustrations. Modern full black leather binding.


A miniature Sanskrit devotional consisting of the complete text of the Bhagavadgita, the famous Hindu devotional poem. 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 five lines per page enclosed within a black, orange and red rectangular border, surrounded by ample margins. The 18 fine miniatures in Pahari style, with opaque water-based pigments and gold, depict devotional scenes with a special emphasis on Krishna and show Lord Vishnu in his ten principal manifestations (Avatars).

The Bhagavad-Gita, considered one of the holy scriptures for Hinduism, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that forms part of the epic Mahabharata. Dated to the second half of the first millennium BCE, it is a work typical of the Hindu synthesis.

A few very minor edge flaws near the end; the final page is annotated in English in a 19th century hand: "The mysterious Bhagavat-gita; a dialogue between Crishna and Arjuna, on the Knowledge of God, & the means of attaining reunion to the divine soul: in eighteen lectures extracted from the Mahábhárata, an epic poem". Provenance: private UK collection.