Hand painted, this cosmological map takes the form of concentric circles showing the three worlds that make up the Jain universe: the outer celestial realm, the middle world of living beings, and the lower world of the damned. According to literature about this diagram, the figure at the center represents a man with his hands up and legs outstretched.
Modern day Jainism was shaped by Mahavira around 500 BC, near Patna in present-day Bihar State, India. Jains believe that everything has life, including inanimate objects such as stones.
This map is a reproduction of the famous Ebstorf map which was destroyed in 1943. This large, circular "mappa mundi," by Gervase of Ebstorf is one of the most famous 13th Century historic maps of the world. With common medieval manuscript symbols and the medieval forms of place names, it reflects the contemporary religious ideas of the medieval map maker and represents cosmography and not cartography, which teaches the constitution of the whole order of nature, or the figure, disposition, and relation of all its parts. It visually portrays the Greek concept of the earth as flat and circular, popularized by the addition of Christian dogma. The original map, discovered in the Benedictine convent of Ebstorf, Germany in 1830, dates from around the thirteenth century. The Map is centered on Jerusalem, depicted with gold, showing the eight-sided medieval wall, the Tower of Babel, Bethlehem, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Mt. Sinai. Christ’s head is represented in the East, at the top of the map, the direction of Paradise. His hands mark the northern and southern limits of the known world, and his feet are at Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic. Europe is in the bottom left, Africa in the bottom right, and Asia at the upper half. In the East, near Christ’s head is located the Garden of Eden surrounded by mountains, the two figures bent to gather silk. Alexander the Great is consulting the Oracle of the Sun and the Moon. The map is surrounded by water and depicts significant landmarks highlighted by gold. Towns are shown by towers, wildlife, rivers, mountains are shown pictorially as well as points of interest for the curious pilgrim. Also shown are the symbols for the four great rivers, the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates, and Ganges.