Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Arhat/Sthavira (Buddhist Elder) - (Attendant) Dharmata

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 58968)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Dr. David Nalin
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Arhat

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Dharmata, the upasaka (Tibetan: gen nyen dhar ma ta), the layman attendant to the Sixteen Great Arhats, along with two of the four Direction Kings, Virupaksha and Vaishravana. This composition belongs to a seven painting set and hangs as the third right painting from the central Shakyamuni Buddha. (See a similar composition with all seven paintings).

Tibetan: Ge nyen dhar ma ta

Youthful and fair skinned, Dharamata has dark hair piled on top of the head. The right hand holds across the knee a fly whisk with a tuft of white yak tail hair. The right hand presses down on the seat to support the upper body. Wearing long flowing garments in green and blue colours, he sits in a relaxed manner atop a red and orange mat. Tied to the back is a carrying case filled with black begging bowls; extended above is an umbrella-like canopy. Sleeping at the side is a tiger, emanation of the bodhisattva Maitreya, the constant companion of Dharmata. Seated in the sky above on a white cloud is the Buddha Amitabha, red, with the two hands placed in the gesture gesture of meditation supporting a black begging bowl.

"To the noble upasaka Dharmata, with the hair in a topknot and a load of books, gazing forward on Amitabha in the sky; homage to the One holding a fly whisk and vase." (Sakya liturgical verse).

In the upper left corner is the deity Yama Dharmaraja with a buffalo head, wrathful in appearance, blue in colour. He stands atop a buffalo and embraces his consort Chamundi who stands to his left.

At the lower right is the leader of the Four Kings of the Directions, Vaishravana, King of the North. Yellow in colour, with a mustache and beard, he holds upraised in the right hand a victory banner and in the left a jewel spitting mongoose held at the side. Adorned with a gold crown studded with jewels, earrings and the like, he wears a gold armoured vest and various coloured garments, trousers and boots. Standing in a relaxed manner, he is surrounded by light coloured billowing clouds and an aureole of flame around the head, orange in colour.

At the left side is Virupaksha, King of the West, red in colour. He holds upraised a small stupa and in the left a writhing snake. Adorned with similar ornaments and attire, he stands surrounded by dark swirling cloud and an aureola of flame.

Dharmata and the Direction Kings belong to a thematic set of paintings known as 'Shakyamuni Buddha and the Sixteen Great Arhats.' The full group comprises 25 figures: the buddha Shakyamuni, together with the two foremost disciples - Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, the Sixteen Arhats, the attendant Dharmata, the patron Hvashang and the Four Guardians of the Directions; Vaishravana, Virupaksha, Dritarashtra and Virudhaka.

Jeff Watt 6-99 [Updated 6-2009]

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: [Tibetan name inscriptions beneath each figure]

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Painting Set: Arhats: Multiple Main Figures
Arhat: Dharmata (Attendant) Main Page
Collection of Dr. David Nalin