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Ink Painting and the Rinpa Tradition

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Bhadra, The Sixth Luohan

Unidentified Artist, 14th century

Date:
dated 1345
Culture:
China
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:
Overall: 50 1/4 x 24 3/8in. (127.6 x 61.9cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
From the Collection of A. W. Bahr, Purchase, Fletcher Fund, 1947
Accession Number:
47.18.103
  • Description

    Luohans (arhats, in Sanskrit) or "worthy ones" are disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha to whom he entrusted the guardianship of the Buddhist law. In China these enlightened beings became the focus of popular veneration and were typically shown in groups of sixteen, eighteen, or five hundred.

    This painting of the sixth luohan, one of twelve that survive from a set of eighteen, is typical of the Chinese treatment of this subject. Inspired by the powerful portraits of individual luohans created by the monk-artist Guanxiu (832–912), the figure is dressed like a monk but given exotic facial features to emphasize his non-Chinese origins. Shown as dwelling in the wilderness, his appearance of spiritual authority is enhanced by his frequent companion, a tiger, which is also the Chinese cosmological symbol of the West.

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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
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