Himalayan Art Resources

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

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 86914)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1600 - 1699
Size 101.60x59.06cm (40x23.25in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection The Brooklyn Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc. #BMA 1993.192.4, Gift of Rosemarie and Leighton Longhi
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Arhat

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Ajita, the Elder (Tibetan: ne ten, ma pham. Sanskrit: Sthavira Ajita): the 2nd arhat from the set of 16 great arhats.

Handsome in appearance, the result of an accumulation of virtue, he gazes forward in a mood of tranquility. The two hands are well placed in the lap performing the mudra (gesture) of meditation. Wearing the patched robes of a monk; the upper in the style of prolonged meditation covers the head and shoulders. On a cushioned mat, he sits on Rishi Mountain. In front resting atop a rocky table is a book, begging bowl and food container. Standing at the right side is a lay attendant. At the top left is the peaceful White Tara, goddess of longevity.

"On the Rishi mountain in Crystal Forest is the noble elder Ajita, surrounded by 100 arhats; homage to the One with the two hands placed in meditation." (Sakya liturgical verse).

The Sixteen Great Arhats are generally painted as a set. Typically the full group would include the Buddha Shakyamuni with the 2 foremost disciples, the 16 great arhats, the attendant Dharmatala, the patron Hvashang and the Four Guardians of the Directions: Vaishravana, Virupaksha, Dritarashtra and Virudhaka.

Jeff Watt 3-2002

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