Himalayan Art Resources

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

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 23411)
Origin Location Tibet
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Arhat

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Vanavasin the Elder (Tibetan: pag pa ne ten, nag la ne, gnas brtan nags na g.nas. Sanskrit: Arya Sthavira Vanavasin): the 3rd arhat from the set of sixteen great arhats as part of a twenty-three (23) composition painting set. (See another painting with the same composition from the Palace Museum collection HAR #34874 and a comparison of three paintings).

"In the mountain cave of Seven-leaves is the noble elder Vanavasin, surrounded by 1,400 arhats; homage to the One with a pointing gesture and holding a fly whisk." (Sakya liturgical verse).

The iconographic form normally ascribed to Vanavasin has him performing a pointing gesture with the right hand and holding a fly whisk in the left. The Sixteen Great Arhats are generally painted as a set. Typically the full group would include the buddha Shakyamuni, the 16 arhats, the attendant Dharmatala, the patron Hvashang and the Four Guardians of the Directions: Vaishravana, Virupaksha, Dritarashtra and Virudhaka.

At the top center of the composition is the Buddhist meditational deity White Tara, female, with one face and two hands. On the forehead, two palms and two soles of the feet are a total of seven eyes.

Jeff Watt 5-1999

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Arhat/Sthavira: Vanavasin Main Page
Arhat: Vanavasin (Imperial Palace Composition Style)
Painting Set: Arhat/Sthavira (Yongle Style Miscellaneous)
Arhat/Sthavira: Vanavasin Masterworks