Tibetan Buddhism, imported in China by Mongol rulers in the thirteenth century, enjoyed further patronage from fifteenth-century emperors of the early Ming period. This work vividly demonstrates how hieratic Tibetan imagery was transformed under Chinese influence into a more naturalistic style, witnessed most strongly in the Sinicized treatment of landscapes. This painting, originally part of a set depicting the sixteen arhats (Buddhist saints), portrays Vajraputra, his hand raised in the teaching gesture (vitarkamudra), expounding dharma to a devotee. Tibetan inscriptions appear on the lower left margin and on the reverse.
Inscription: A brief inscription in Tibetan has been inscribed along the lower left margin of the tangka beyond the painted surface; the same inscription also appears twice on the back of the thanka near the top edge.