Twenty-one Tirthankaras are said to have attained nirvana in the kayotsarga attitude, i.e., standing erect as, do Bharata and Bahubali at Sravana
Tirthankara idols in British Museum
In the case of Parsvanatha, snake-hoods numbering seven are shown over his head and sometimes a snake with a single hood or without hood on the pedestal.
Images of Tirthankara By T.N.Ramchandran
Images of the 24 Tirthankaras of the present age are usually placed on highly sculptured asanas generally padmasanas.
In North Indian temples they are generally of marble, white mostly except in the cases of Mallinatha, Munisuvrata, Neminatha and Parsvanatha, where they are often black.
There is no such preference in South India for white marble and though we do find it in some of the Jaina temples here it is due to North Indian influence.
Ordinary granite is more often selected for image-making than polished stone or any other material, it being maintained that the colossal statues at Sravana Belgola, Karkal and Yenur which are hewn out of rocks justify the selection.
Tirthankara images are found only in two attitudes, sitting and standing. There, however, appears to be marked preference for the former attitude. Twenty-one Tirthankaras are said to have attained nirvana in the kayotsarga attitude,
i.e., standing erect as, do Bharata and Bahubali at Sravana Belgola, while the other three did so while sitting on a padmasana. These three are Rishabhadeva, Neminatha and Mahavira, who are considered the most important of all.
The attitude in which they attained nirvana was thus specially emphasised and came later to be sometimes associated with all the twenty-four.
When colossal statues of any Tirthankara were made they were hewn out of boulders, the standing posture being mostly preferred.
Seated images of Tirthankaras always have the legs crossed in front,
the toes of one foot resting close upon the knee of the other, and the right hand placed on left in the lap, both the palms facing upwards.
All are so alike when thus represented that the need appears to have been felt to differentiate them by certain devices which are known as Chihnas or
lanchhanas. These emblems are usually carved on the pedestals or asanas on which the images are installed. In the case of
Parsvanatha, snake-hoods numbering seven are shown over his head and sometimes a snake with a single hood or without hood on the pedestal. This is to distinguish him
Suparsvanatha, the seventh Tirthankara, who has also snake-hoods over head, though the number of the hoods rarely exceeds five. To avoid even the slightest confusion svastika symbol has been prescribed for
Suparsvanatha, which is scrupulously engraven in all images of this
Tirthankara. Digambara images are all nude while those of the
Svetambaras, are dressed and sometimes decorated with crowns and ornaments. They have a triple umbrella called mukkodai in Tamil over their heads which is surrounded by a bhamandala or
holo. At the base of the asanas are sometimes found nine figures representing the nine planets
(navagrahas). On the front of the asanas are usually carved two small figures. To the right of the Tirthankara stands a male figure representing the Yaksha or male attendant deva of that particular
Tirthankara; to his left stands the corresponding female figure representing the particular Yakshini or female attendant devi of that particular
Tirthankara. Sometimes between these attendants is a small panel in which the figure of a devi called Vidyadevi is often shown. Eight auspicious marks called
ashta-mangalas, viz. parssol, flag, flywhisk, Svastika, mirror, vase
(Kalasa) powder-flask and a throne seat, are sometimes shown on the