Himalayan Art Resources

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

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 83445)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
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 elder from the set of 16 great elders, considered the principal students of the buddha Shakyamuni.

"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).

Having dark receding hair, a light moustache and beard, 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 green and red outer robe adorned with gold design, he has an inner garment with long sleeves and trim. The feet are bare and he sits in a relaxed posture with the right leg forward atop a flat rocky surface. The head is encircled by a gold coloured aureole ring.

A high table to the side supports a golden bowl of jewels and a blue vase. At the upper left is a peach tree laden with fruit.

The Sixteen Great Elders (Arhats) are generally painted as a set. The full group would include the buddha Shakyamuni, two students, sixteen elders, the attendant Dharmatala, the patron Hvashang and the Four Guardians of the Directions - Vaishravana, Virupaksha, Dritarashtra and Virudhaka. These twenty-five figures would be arranged in twenty-three painted compositions with Shakyamuni and his two principal students depicted in a single composition.

Jeff Watt 3-2016

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