The anonymous illustrated manuscript of the Molon Toyin's tale examined in this article is one of many narrative illustrations of popular Buddhist tales that circulated in Mongolia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and that have come to us in different lengths and forms. This article seeks to demonstrate that when a text and the accompanying narrative illustrations are brought together in a single manuscript, they enhance each other's productive efficacy through their respective verbal and pictorial imagery. An illustrated text cross-references between the linguistic and visual worlds of experience and lends itself to interdisciplinary approaches. To a certain degree, it also subverts any differentiation between the linguistic and pictorial signs and challenges the notion of a self-sufficient text. As in the case of other illustrated manuscripts of the Molon Toyin's tale, here, too, the author's or illustrator's main concern is to illustrate the workings of karma and its results, expressing them in compelling, pictorial terms. At the same time, illustrations also function both as visual memory aids and as the means of aesthetic gratification. Due to the anonymity of the manuscript examined in this article, it is difficult to determine with any certainty whether the orthography and graphic features of the manuscript's illustrations are conditioned by the scribe, who is most likely also an illustrator, by his monastic training and the place where he received it, or by the expectations of the patron who commissioned the manuscript.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 339-367
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2020
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