We should bear in mind that jātaka is not an inflexible category. The same narrative can fulfill different functions, at one and the same time or at different times, as a jātaka, a deśanā, an ānisaṃsa, a paritta, or a sūtra.

This article begins with a brief history of jātakas, from the Pāli canon in India to the spread of the tales through all of Asia. Skilling then goes on to classify and elaborate on the jātakas as classical (tales found within the Khuddaka-nikya) and non-classical (transmitted outside of the canon and only in certain regions). Throughout the study, Skilling brings various jātaka stories into conversation, as well as various places in Asia where jātaka tales have played an important role in the region’s form of Buddhism.