Himalayan Art Resources

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

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 548)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1600 - 1699
Lineages Uncertain
Size 66.04x50.80cm (26x20in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1996.33.4
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Arhat

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Gopaka, the Elder (Tibetan: ne ten, be che, Sanskrit: Sthavira Gopaka): the 15th arhat from the set of 16 great arhats, principal students of the buddha Shakyamuni.

Having dark hair, moustache and a goatee, the mouth slightly open, he looks to the side. With the left hand he holds a religious folio book and with the right he unwraps the cloth covering. Wearing a bright orange outer robe adorned with gold design, he has an inner garment of purple with long sleeves and black trim. The feet are covered with white socks and he sits in a relaxed posture with the right leg forward atop a square yellow mat. The head is encircled by a pink areola.

A low table in front supports a black begging bowl, branch of red coral, an upright Dharma wheel and incense bowl. At the left a standing monk with dark red robes offers a mandala plate - a symbolic representation of the universe. At the lower right a monk is seated in a casual posture alongside a small table and begging bowl. At the upper left, trees, billowing clouds and dark blue sky frame a large pavilion with a three-tiered roof of gold.

At the middle right a white snow lion with an orange mane stands at the opening of a cave. Above, floating on grey clouds is Green Tara with one face and two hands. The right performs the mudra of generosity and the left at the heart the mudra of blessing. Both hands hold the stems of lotus flowers blossoming over each shoulder. Richly adorned with jewels and silks, she sits in a relaxed posture with the right leg extended.

"On the king of mountains, Bihula, is the noble elder Gopaka, surrounded by 1,400 arhats; homage to the One holding a book with the two hands." (Sakya liturgical text).

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 Hva-shang and the Four Guardians of the Directions - Vaishravana, Virupaksha, Dritarashtra and Virudhaka.

Jeff Watt 5-99

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