Himalayan Art Resources

Shakyamuni Buddha & the Sixteen Elders (Single Composition)

Shakyamuni Buddha Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Shakyamuni Buddha & Arhats in a Single Composition Explanation (below)
- Mandala Configuration
- Elders (Arhats) Main Page
- Hinayana Buddhism Main Page
- Patriarchs
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Twenty-five Figures:
1. Shakyamuni Buddha
2. Shariputra
3. Maudgalyayana
4-19. Sixteen Great Elders
20. Dharmata
21. Hvashang
22-25. Four Guardian Kings

Painting Sets:
- Paintings Sets: Outline 1
- Painting Sets: Outline 2
- Example: Three Painting Set
- Example: Seven Panting Set

These paintings below depict in a single composition the Buddha Shakyamuni together with the two principal students, Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, the Sixteen Great Arhats, the attendant figures of Dharmatala and the patron Hvashang, along with the four Great Guardian Kings, or Kings of the Directions.

The group of figures commonly known as Shakyamuni and the Sixteen Arhats represent the Hinayana Tradition of Buddhism within the visual culture of Himalayan and Tibetan Buddhism.

In total there are twenty-five figures represented in a single painted composition (see a schematic of all figures). If the figures are divided between several compositions then there can be sets of paintings numbering three, five, seven, nine, or up to twenty-three paintings in total (the two principal students are always depicted standing or sitting alongside the Buddha). Painting sets of Shakyamuni and the Arhats along with the individual paintings from broken sets comprise a very large proportion of all of Himalayan and Tibetan painting throughout the world.

Jeff Watt [updated 6-2017]