Himalayan Art Resources

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

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 581)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1500 - 1599
Lineages Uncertain
Size 91.44x69.85cm (36x27.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.45.5
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Arhat

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Gopaka and Angaja, the Elders (Tibetan: ne ten, be che dang yan lag jung, Sanskrit: Sthavira Gopaka ca Angaja): the 15th and 1st arhats from the set of 16 great arhats, principal students of the buddha Shakyamuni.

At the left, handsome in appearance with dark hair and the mouth slightly open, he holds the right hand to the heart in the mudra (gesture) of religious explication. The left hand placed below holds a religious text. Draped across the left shoulder of a dark green jacket is an orange and blue patchwork robe. Seated atop an ornate throne, the head is surrounded by an areola of light. An attendant standing behind at the side offers a golden stupa. In front, busy with preparations, two attendants work at a table.

"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).

At the right is Angaja, mature in appearance with grey hair and a pronounced frown. The right arm is supported on the raised knee, the hand holding an incense bowl. The left hand loosely extended across the leg holds a flywhisk. In a coat of blue and gold brocade covered with a patchwork robe of green and orange he sits in a relaxed posture atop an ornate throne; the head surrounded by an areola of light. In front two attendants appear active in their duties.

"On the snow mountain of Kailash is the noble elder Angaja, surrounded by 1,300 arhats; homage to the One holding an incense bowl and flywhisk." (Sakya liturgical text).

In a Chinese style, the background is filled with twisting trees and branches, climbing rock formations and a decorative building atop a swirling mass of cloud. At the bottom right and left are descriptive tablets framed with red and standing on pink lotus blossoms. (The text is currently illegible).

The Sixteen Great Arhats have vowed to remain active in the world until the coming of the future buddha Maitreya. 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 8-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Arhat/Sthavira: Main Page & Arhat/Sthavira Appearance (Elder)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 3
Painting Set: Arhats: Two Main Figure Format
Arhat/Sthavira: Angaja Main Page
Arhat/Sthavira: Gopaka Main Page
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Arhat/Sthavira