Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Arhat/Sthavira (Buddhist Elder) - (Attendant) Dharmata

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 287)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1600 - 1699
Lineages Buddhist
Size 86.36x55.88cm (34x22in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.18.3
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Arhat

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Dharmata, the upasaka (Tibetan: ge nyen dhar ma ta) of Central Asian or Chinese origin - the layman attendant to the 16 Great Arhats.

Tibetan: Ge nyen dhar ma ta

In a walking posture, moving to the left side, youthful with a round face and clean-shaven, the black hair is arranged in tufts on the crown of the head. The right hand holds in front a white yak tail flywhisk with a long red handle. The left upraised at the heart holds a golden water flask. Free of jewel and gold ornamentation, he wears a long red gown with gold design and a blue trim. A green sash is tied at the waist along with a blue and yellow scarf. Covering the feet are decorative boots. Carried on the back is a rectangular travelling case filled with scrolls - the ends visible. On a curved red shaft protruding from the top of the case is an elaborate and colourful three-tiered canopy draped with ribbons and topped with a jewel - sheltering the head from above. At the lower left side, walking before the patron, is a fierce orange tiger with bulging red eyes and a gaping mouth exposing sharp white fangs - an emanation arising from the right knee of the Attendant.

"To the noble upasaka Dharmata, with the hair in a topknot and a load of books, gazing upward at Amitabha in the sky; homage to the One holding a flywhisk and vase." (Sakya liturgical verse).

At the upper left is the buddha Amitabha, red, with the two hands placed in the lap in the mudra of meditation and supporting a black begging bowl. Wearing orange and green robes he sits with the two legs in vajra posture above a pink lotus blossom surrounded by a dark blue nimbus and green areola - floating on dark billowing clouds. Standing at the bottom left is a small figure of a man, gesturing with the finger, wearing an orange hat and rich attire of variously coloured robes all of Chinese fashion. The landscape is rich with colour and large blossoming flowers at the lower right, a blue pond and waterfowl on the left and a large fruit tree with two playful monkeys filling the upper right with green foliage and sporadic colour of ripening fruit and flowers.

Dharmatala, considered by some to be an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, belongs to a thematic set of paintings known as 'Shakyamuni Buddha and the 16 Great Arhats.' The full group comprises 25 figures: the buddha Shakyamuni, together with the two foremost disciples - Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, the 16 Arhats, the attendant Dharmata, the patron Hva-shang and the Four Guardians of the Directions; Vaishravana, Virupaksha, Dritarashtra and Virudhaka. As a late addition, Dharmatala was attached to the group of Arhats during the time of the Chinese Tang Emperor (9th - 10th century).

Jeff Watt 9-99

Reverse of Painting
Special Features: (includes "Om Ah Hum" inscription)

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Arhat/Sthavira (Buddhist Elder) - Dharmata Masterworks
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Painting Set: Arhats: Single Main Figure
Arhat: Dharmata (Attendant) Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Arhat/Sthavira
Painting Set: Arhat Set XXVIII