Himalayan Art Resources

Sthavira/Arhat: Sets, Composition, Medium & Subjects

Arhat/Sthavira Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Linear List Outline
- Schematic Outline
- Painting Sets Outline

Painting Sets, Compositions, Mediums & Subjects:
- Single Composition (All Figures)
- Names Block Print Set (Singles)
- Block Print & Painted Sets
- Travelling to China
- Single Figure Composition
- Two Figure Composition
- Multiple Figure Composition
- Confusions
- Others...

- Arhats: 16 or 18
- Arhat Iconography
- Arhat Composition & Sets

Shakyamuni Buddha is the central figure, the first painting or sculpture, for all sets of the Sixteen Great Elders. The full group of sthavira always has twenty-five figures: the Buddha Shakyamuni, together with the two foremost disciples - Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, the sixteen sthavira, 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 always, or almost always, portrayed in the same painted composition with Buddha Shakyamuni. In sculpture sets the total number of pieces is twenty-five. In the Tibetan system there are only sixteen elders. The Chinese system counts Dharmatala and Hvashang as elders for a total of eighteen.

Jeff Watt [updated 4-2017, 12-2018]