Himalayan Art Resources

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

གནས་བརྟན། 罗汉
(item no. 90001)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Karma (Kagyu)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Navin Kumar
Painting School Karma Gardri
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 16 Great Arhats.

Tibetan: Ge nyen dhar ma ta

Appearing with a pale complexion, dark hair tied in a topknot, moustache and goatee, he holds upraised in the right hand a flywhisk and in the left a gold water flask. Gold rings adorn the ears and he wears a blue garment with wide-open sleeves, a gold design and tied with a red sash. Decorative shoes cover the feet. On the back he carries a red travelling case filled with religious books and provisions - topped with a circular canopy crowned with a blue jewel. At the side, as a companion, is a striped tiger having emanating from the right knee of Dhamatala to be a fierce protector of the 16 Arhats.

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

Emanating forth on ribbons of rainbow light arising from the gold water flask is the buddha Amitabha, red, with the two hands placed in the mudra of meditation, seated atop a pink lotus blossom encircled by a nimbus of blue light. At the top left is Gyalwa Karmapa Jangchub Dorje (1703-1732) with the right hand performing the mudra (gesture) of blessing and the left in the lap in the mudra of meditation supporting a Dharma wheel. Wearing orange and red monastic robes he sits on a blue cushion seat and wears the traditional black vajra crown. At the middle right is Tai Situ Chokyi Jungne with the two hands at the heart performing the teaching mudra, wearing monastic robes and wearing the red vajra crown. (The names are written in fine gold lettering beneath each).

At the bottom right is the Dakini Simhamukha, with a white lion face, blue in colour, holding a curved knife upraised in the right hand and a skullcup to the heart with the left. Standing in a dancing posture above a corpse, sun and pink lotus seat, she is surrounded by the brightly burning orange flames of pristine awareness. At the left side are two of the Direction Kings, Virudhaka, blue in colour, holding a sword and Dhritarashtra, white, holding a lute. Both are attired in rich garments and jewelry.

Dharmatala belongs to a thematic set of paintings known as Shakyamuni Buddha and the 16 Great Arhats.' The full group comprises 25 figures: the buddha Shakyamuni, together with the two foremost disciples - Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, the 16 Arhats, the attendant Dharmata, the patron Hvashang and the Four Guardians of the Directions; Vaishravana, Virupaksha, Dritarashtra and Virudhaka. As a late addition, Dharmatala was attached to the group of Arhats during the time of the Chinese Tang Emperor (9th - 10th century). (This painting belongs to the same set as #90104).

Jeff Watt 9-99

Related Items
Publication: Tibetan Paintings

Thematic Sets
Painting Set: Arhats: Single Main Figure
Arhat: Dharmata (Attendant) Main Page
Painting Set: Arhat Set IX
Collection of Navin Kumar Gallery: Painting