Arhat (Tibetan: ne tan): a Sanskrit term for Buddhist saints representing the earliest followers of the Buddha, always found in a group of sixteen, they are painted on cloth, wall murals, and fashioned of metal, stone, clay, or wood. An early iconographic source for the individual descriptions of the arhats is the verse text Praise to the Sixteen Arhats attributed to the Kashmiri teacher Shakyashri Bhadra of the 12th/13th century.
Shakyamuni Buddha is the central figure, the first painting or sculpture, for all sets of the Sixteen Great Arhats. The full group of arhats always has twenty-five 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,  Dhritarashtra and  Virudhaka. In all, an extensive set of paintings would comprise twenty-three individual paintings. The two foremost disciples are almost always portrayed in the same painted composition with Shakyamuni. In sculpture sets the total number of pieces is twenty-five.