Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Arhat/Sthavira (Buddhist Elder) - 16 Elders: Rahula

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 222)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Uncertain
Size 71.12x44.45cm (28x17.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1995.33.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Arhat

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Rahula, the Elder (Tibetan: ne ten, dra chen dzin, Sanskrit: Sthavira Rahula): the actual son of the buddha Shakyamuni and the 10th arhat from the set of 16 Great Arhats.

Handsome in appearance and gazing to the side, the black hair of the head is piled in a topknot in likeness to the ushnisha of the Buddha. Fine featured he has long eyebrows, pendant earlobes and three lines across the neck - all signs of beauty. The two hands with slender fingers are placed at the heart holding a gold and jewel tiara decorated with ribbons on the sides - a gift of the gods from the Heaven of Thirty-three. Attired in a green cloak with long sleeves, the left shoulder is covered with a yellow and blue patchwork robe further wrapped around the folded legs. A red robe tied with a green sash is worn about the lower body. Seated atop a blue cushion and backrest, spread with an orange and yellow monk's meditation mat, he sits with the head framed by an areola of red light. Behind, flower blossoms spread upward forming a canopy. In front, the two shoes are placed on the rise of rock outcropping forming a natural seat above a pile of wishing jewels and precious objects assembled as an offering. Several deer rest on the open ground and waterfowl sport in the waters fed by the mountains at either side.

"On the Island of Priyangku is the noble elder Rahula, surrounded by 1,100 arhats; homage to the One holding a jewelled tiara." (Sakya liturgical text).

At the upper left side a monk attendant arranges a plate on a rock table alongside a flower vase and black begging bowl filled with persimmon fruit. Behind, a tree with a gnarled lavender trunk is heavily laden with ripening orange fruit each framed by large star shaped foliage. (An inscription in gold letters is written below the offerings in front).

The full group of arhats would traditionally comprise 25 figures: the buddha Shakyamuni, together with the two foremost disciples - Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, the 16 Arhats, the attendant Dharmata, the patron Hvashang and the Four Guardians of the Directions; Vaishravana, Virupaksha, Dritarashtra and Virudhaka.

Jeff Watt 8-99

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: The Aryan Elder Rahula.

Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: 'phags pa gnas bstan sgra can 'dzin.

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Arhat/Sthavira: Main Page & Arhat/Sthavira Appearance (Elder)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 6
Arhat/Sthavira: Rahula Main Page
Painting Set: Arhats: Single Main Figure
Subject: Patchwork Robes
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Arhat/Sthavira
Subject: Human Figures with Buddha Appearance
Subject: Buddha Appearance Confusions