Himalayan Art Resources

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

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 86916)
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 1993.192.8, Gift of Rosemarie and Leighton Longhi
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Arhat

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Vajriputra the Elder (Tibetan: ne ten, dor je mo bu. Sanskrit: Sthavira Vajriputra): the 5th arhat from the set of 16 great arhats.

Pale in complexion with receeding hair, handsome in appearance, he holds in the left hand at the lap the handle of a fly whisk topped with a tuft of white yak tail hair. The right hand is upraised in a pointing gesture with a fine ray of rainbow light extending upwards culminating in the creation of a celestial palace with the long-life deity Ushnishavijaya seated in the middle. Wearing patchwork robes with strips of red cloth and a lower garment of blue, he sits atop a meditation mat above a rocky outcropping. The head is surrounded by a red aureola and the background filled with green mountain landscapes and a large tree serving as a canopy for the seated arhat. A table at the side supports a book, incense burner and a begging bowl filled with white and red lotus blossoms. At the lower right stands a monastic figure, wearing patched robes and gazing upward entranced by the display of magical illusion.

"On the Island of Singha is the noble elder Vajriputra, surrounded by 1,000 arhats; homage to the One performing a pointing gesture and holding a fly whisk." (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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