Haryana has been a terra incognita as far as the beginning of Jainism and Jaina art are concerned. The hoard of Jaina bronzes from Hansi in district Hisar, discovered just accidentally in February 1982, which has remained unpublished all these years, thus, forms an important discovery which throws very welcome light on the beginnings of Jainism in this northern state adjoining Delhi. It provides the earliest archaeological evidence of the prevalence of Jainism in Haryana as also of the bronze art of the region.
The present hoard of fifty-eight bronze images belonging to the Svetambara and Digambara sects of the Jainas with the two Buddhist images of bhumisparsa Buddha and Avalokitesvara Padamapani throws very significant light on the religious and art history of the region. The images belong to eighth through tenth centuries and were probably buried together at the time of the siege of the city towards the close of AD 1037. Many of the images show coatings and traces of sandal paste still sticking to them indicating there by that they were under worship at the time of their burial. Another interesting fact is that the Svetambaras, Digambaras and the Buddhists joined together to bury these icons in one cauldron betraying the religious harmony that may have been prevailing at Hansi at that time.
The images are not real bronzes but made of different alloys. They also betray the techniques of solid and hollow casting, welding, hammering, engraving on sheets, etc. to create them. The contents of the hoard reveal that Parsvanatha was the most popular tirthankara at Hansi followed by Mahavira Adinatha (Rishabhanatha), Chandraprabha and Mallinatha. This hoard has provided us the first metallic image of female Mallinatha, the earliest and the only known example of the parents of the Jina in metal, and early examples of the metallic Sarvatobhadrikas. Influence from Rajasthan and Gujarat is also discernible in their techniques and iconography. The present book deals with all these aspects of the metal images and brings out their religious, cultural and art-historical importance.