Himalayan Art Resources

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

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 314)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Uncertain
Size 78.74x52.71cm (31x20.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Shelley & Donald Rubin
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.19.18
Painting School Palpung / Situ
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Arhat

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Abheda, the Elder (Tibetan: ne ten, mi je pa, Sanskrit: Sthavira Abheda): the 16th of the 16 Great Arhats, principal students of the buddha Shakyamuni.

Gazing directly forward with eyes partially closed, and a sparse trace of dark facial hair, the hands respectfully covered with a white scarf hold at the heart a golden stupa. Across the left shoulder and wrapped around the torso is the orange and red patchwork robe of a monk, cut from strips of discarded cloth and dyed with saffron. The lower body is covered with a blue robe tied with an orange sash. In a relaxed posture with the ankles crossed and the feet exposed he sits atop a monk's meditation mat on a rough wooden platform seat. A large areola of ethereal light blended with the background and framed by massive flower blossoms of various colour and rich green foliage frame the head. At the right a layperson seated on a cloudbank offers in wide-open arms a white scarf. Below that a heavenly figure with flowers in the hair and a long flowing blue scarf holds an offering upraised with both hands. A small child behind clutches a large flower vase.

"On the King of Snow Mountains is the noble elder Abheda, surrounded by 1,100 arhats; homage to the one holding an enlightenment stupa." (Sakya liturgical verse).

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

Related Items
Publications
Iconography: The Eleven Figurative Forms Page
Bibliography: Arhat

Thematic Sets
Arhat: Abheda Main Page/Sthavira
Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin (Teachers)
Arhat/Sthavira: Main Page & Arhat/Sthavira Appearance (Elder)
Painting Set: Arhats: Single Main Figure
Arhat/Sthavira (Buddhist Elder): Abheda Masterworks
Painting Style: Palpung Monastery
Painting Set: Situ Panchen Painting Set Commissions
Painting Set: Shakyamuni and Arhats (Situ)
Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin
Arhat/Sthavira: List of Elders & Related Figures
Painting Style: Palpung - Teachers & Siddhas