Himalayan Art Resources

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

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 34)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Size 92.71x60.33cm (36.50x23.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Shelley & Donald Rubin
Catalogue # acc.# P1990.1.2
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Arhat

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Kanaka Bharadhvaja, the Elder (Tibetan: bha ra dhva ja ser chen chog, Sanskrit: Sthavira Kanaka Bharadhvaja): the 8th arhat from the set of 16 great arhats, principal students of the buddha Shakyamuni.

Sanskrit script:

Elderly in appearance with receding brown hair, long eyebrows and extensive age lines, he looks downward with the two hands folded together at the heart. With the right shoulder bare he wears across the left a patchwork robe of green and purple decorated with gold floral design. In a relaxed posture with the left knee raised he sits on a cushioned seat exposing the unshorn toenails of the left foot; the head adorned with a dark green areola. In front a rock outcropping serves as a stool for the Elders shoes. At the left a black and red lacquer table supports a book, ink pot, vase, incense burner and a mortar and pestle. At the right side a tall tree rises upward with twisting branches forming a canopy above.

"On the wealthy [continent] of Apara-Godaniya is the noble elder Kanaka Bharadvaja, surrounded by 700 arhats; homage to the One with the two hands placed in meditation." (Sakya liturgical text).

At the right side a dignified monk attendant stands with the forearms locked together, attired in a blue jacket covered with an orange and blue brocade patchwork robe. At the left side a royal figure standing respectfully is elaborately dressed in opulent garments of various colour and adorned with a headdress of jewels. With the two hands in front he offers upraised with an orange scarf a white conch shell. Standing behind, a dwarf holds atop the head a gold tray filled with variously coloured wishing jewels, precious objects and an image of a large golden lion seated on a lotus blossom. In the foreground a white snow lion with a blue mane, fringe and long tail sits contentedly on the flat green landscape. Green and blue mountain vistas roll upward into grey and blue cloudy skies.

Kanaka Bharadhvaja is more commonly portrayed with the two hands in the gesture of meditation folded in the lap, however there are various traditions depicting different poses. 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 Noble Kanaka.

Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: 'phags pa gser can.

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Painting Set: Arhats: Single Main Figure
Subject: Patchwork Robes
Painting Set: Arhat Set I
Arhat/Sthavira: Kanakabharadvaja Main Page
Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin
Arhat/Sthavira: Kanakabharadvaja Masterworks