An unusual bronze. Some things are certain. It represents Jain Svetembra (white clad) faith and it is from Karnataka (Brass as the material, Kiritimukha, Naga and the sliding compartment for the deity).
This is the only Jain bronze I have come across where the Jina and the nun share the pedestal. Normally you see the Jina flanked by Yaksha and Yakshi or flanked by attendants or by other Jina’s. Considering the ‘equal position’ the nun is given, she is unlikely to be a donor or a worshipper.
The Jina is wearing clothes as indicated by the lines across his legs and arms. There is a possibility such markings were an afterthought.
This is probably Paravanath. Normally he is protected by one, three or seven hooded snake. As U P Shah points out in Jaina-Rupa-Mandana, in Deccan region sculptures Parasvanath is sometimes shown protected by a five-hooded cobra.
The Jina is sitting in Padmasana and the num in Ardha Padmasana.
The backplate has four images of Jina and that makes this bronze a Panchatirthaka.
What is also intriguing is the patterns of nun’s clothing, the body of clothing has patterns, the borders are delineated and the end of the saree (pallu) has very distinct patterns. See the back view shown below. The Jain nuns are expected to wear plain clothes (white, yellow or orange) and not such richly decorated clothes. Her covering head with parts of the saree is not unusual. Such custom is in practice even today.
The prabhavali, backplate, is small for the Jina. The other aspect to note is the way the nun’s pedestal part is attached to rest of the bronze. This leads to the question as to whether that part is a later addition.
A most unusual bronze, if what appears to be is what it is.
Notice the pattern on the body of the saree, the border delineation and the different pattern at the end of the saree. Not what you would expect a nun to wear.
Notice the way the top of the base is attached to the other parts. Two copper rivets. Never seen this before. Also, the compartment for the nun is made separately and attached. The design patterns along the border are different.
3 May 2023: This is probably not a Jaina sculpture. Under research for now. Thanks to Shreehari.