Episodes in the life of Prince Vessantara. Album of watercolours, 1815.

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About this work

Also known as

Tipiṭaka. Suttapiṭaka. Khuddakanikāya. Jātaka. Vessantarajātaka. n 80152979


Episodes in the life of the prince known in Pali as Vessantara (in Tibetan as Dri-med-kun-Idan or Thams-cad-sgrol [Saviour of all, literally "Liberating all"], in Sanskrit as Viśvantara), prince of charity, who gave away his father's wish-fulfilling gem, his own wife and children and his own eyes. He is a form of the Buddha in a previous existence



Physical description

1 album (30 leaves, 30 watercolours) : pen and ink and watercolours ; sheets approximately 24 x 29 cm


Extensive lettering in Burmese and/or Pali annotated with English translations, often indistinct


Wellcome Collection 585749i


Fol. 1: King Sanjaya with Prince Vessantara and his family
Fol. 2: the seven brahmins from Kalinga ask Prince Vessantara for an elephant
Fol. 3: Prince Vessantara offers an elephant to the seven brahmins from Kalinga
Fol. 4: the people of Jetuttara complain to King Sanjaya at the loss of the elephant
Fol. 5: the representative of the people of Jetuttara requests Prince Vessantara to leave the city
Fol. 6: Prince Vessantara asks King Sanjaya for seven days' grace before leaving the city
Fol. 7: the representative of the people of Jetuttara gives alms to the poor in the victualling rooms
Fol. 8: Prince Vessantara makes his farewells to King Sanjaya before embarking on the life of a hermit
Fol. 9: Prince Vessantara and his family depart in a horse-drawn carriage: a brahmin asks them to give him the horse
Fol. 10: Prince Vessantara and his family hand over the horse: another brahmin asks them to give him the carriage
Fol. 11: Prince Vessantara and his family march as hermits through the woods
Fol. 12: Prince Vessantara proceeds to a temple
Fol. 13: Prince Vessantara's wife and children proceed to a different temple
Fol. 14: Prince Vessantara and his family live as hermits in separate temples
Fol. 15: Prince Vessantara's wife commits her children to Vessantara and goes to collect fruit
Fol. 16: a brahmin asks Prince Vessantara to offer him his children; Vessantara agrees
Fol. 17: the brahmin ties the children up and takes them away; Prince Vessantara's wife returns and asks where they have gone
Fol. 18: the brahmin, sitting in a tree, keeps the children of Prince Vessantara tied up all night, and in the morning takes them on the road
Fol. 19: the brahmin misses his road: he arrives at the city where the representative of the people delivers the children to King Sanjaya
Fol. 20: King Sanjaya redeems the children of Prince Vessantara, paying to the brahmin the weight of the girl in gold
Fol. 21: the elephant given to the brahmins is returned from Kalinga
Fol. 22: the assembly of people begs King Sanjaya for the return of Prince Vessantara
Fol. 23: King Sanjaya proceeds on an elephant followed by the people to invite Prince Vessantara back
Fol. 24: Kings Sanjaya and Cetiya and their queens
Fol. 25: Kings Sanjaya and Cetiya depart
Fol. 26: King Sanjaya's interview with Prince Vessantara in the temple
Fol. 27: Prince Vessantara leaves the life of a hermit and returns to the city
Fol. 28: King Sanjaya arrives at Cetiya city and stays several days
Fol. 29: a procession
Fol. 30: Prince Vessantara is restored to his throne and reigns in his city

Creator/production credits

Indistinct inscription on fol. 30 identifies the author: "This work was written drawn and completed on the 11th of [Janu?]ary 1815 by ... [Dav?]id Rubarn [?] ..."


Where to find it

  • album of 30 watercolours

    Closed stores

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