Himalayan Art Resources

Iconography: Monastics, Three Visual Types

Monastic Appearance

Subjects, Topics & Types:
Description (below)
--- Elders (sthavira/arhat)
--- Indian Monastics
--- Himalayan & Tibetan Monastics
- Patchwork Robes
- Confusions
- Others...

- Monastics: Three Visual Types
- Patchwork Robes: Part 1
- Patchwork Robes: Part 2

There are three basic visual forms for the depiction of monastic figures in Himalayan art. The first are the Elders (sthavira/arhat) following a Chinese visual model and multi-coloured garments and wearing shoes or boots. The second is Indian monastics, most often represented by the Six Ornaments & Two Excellent Ones, identified by either having no shirt on the upper body or a vest style shirt, blue in colour. The third are Himalayan, Tibetan and Central Asian monastics dressed in orange, yellow or red garments with a matching shirt and felt boots. All three examples have patchwork robes often represented as strips, sometimes in alternating colours.

Jeff Watt 4-2022