Himalayan Art Resources

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

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 333)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Uncertain
Size 78.74x53.34cm (31x21in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.17.16
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Arhat

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Kanaka Bharadvaja, the Elder (Tibetan: ne ten, bha ra dva ja ser chen chog. Sanskrit: Sthavira Kanaka Bharadvaja): the 8th arhat from the set of 16 great arhats.

Placid in a meditative mood, youthful in appearance, he gazes to the side. The two hands are placed in the lap in the mudra (gesture) of meditation - right over left with the tips of the thumbs touching. Attired in the orange and red patchwork robes of a monk; the upper robe with a green lining is composed of strips of discarded fabric. A large yellow areola encircles the head. Atop a cushion seat and low golden throne he sits observing at the side a green dragon, flying on a bank of billowing clouds, holding upraised a large golden bowl containing an overflowing blue water vase - symbolizing the gift of summoning rainstorms.

"In the wealthy Western [continent] of Apara-Godaniya is the noble elder Kanaka Bharadvaja, surrounded by 700 arhats; homage to the One with two hands performing the [gesture] of meditation." (Sakya liturgical verse).

At the left side two monks wearing similar orange and red attire gaze upward at the vibrant image of the appearing dragon. At the lower front are the auspicious Golden Fish, from the set of Eight Auspicious Symbols, surrounded by blue swirling water atop a bright orange lotus flower. At the right are precious jewels, conch shells, gold ornaments and red coral arranged in a row. The background is filled with a steep blue rock face adorned with flowering plants and trees contrasted by the vast open tawny coloured grassland of the foreground.

The Sixteen Great Arhats are generally painted as a set. 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.

Jeff Watt 5-99

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