The legend of Prince Vishvantara

The legend of Prince Vishvantara

This 10 m long series of pictures tells in 86 continuous scenes the Vessantara Jataka, the story of Prince Vishvantara, whose life was determined by his generosity, above all limitless generosity. The accompanying text is written in the Nepalese language Newari. Although the painted scroll was only created in the 19th century, it continues a very old and widespread Buddhist tradition.

The Vessantara Jataka
The Vessantara Jataka, the story of Prince Vishvantara, is one of the best-known stories in Theravada Buddhism about the past lives of Buddhist personalities, in this case from Buddha Shakyamuni. The story is about the life and deeds of a merciful prince and is performed and celebrated annually at festivals in many countries in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

The story of Prince Vishvantara
Vishvantara is sent into the forest solitude wherever his family accompanies him. After giving away an elephant, a horse and a cart, an old Brahmin asks the prince to give away his wife and children as well. The prince leaves it to him. After all, he passed all exams and will be reborn in Tushita heaven. Because Vishvantara is considered the last earthly existence of the future Buddha. The story of the prince who gives everything he has shows the virtue of perfect generosity.


  • Title : The legend of Prince Vishvantara
  • Year : 1837
  • Classification : Paintings
  • Medium : Colour on fabric
  • Dimension : Height x width: 38x1065 cm ; Weight: <2 kg
  • Accession No : Identification number. I 10024
  • Country/ Geo-location : Nepal (country) Banepa (city)
  • Collection : Pergamon Museum
  • Collection : Museum of Asian Art South, Southeast and Central Asia
  • Photo : Museum for Asian Art of the State Museums in Berlin - Prussian Cultural Heritage Photographer: Iris Papadopoulos