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Shangguan Zhou

(Chinese, 1665–1749)

Sixteen Lohans

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Object Details

Artist

Shangguan Zhou

Date

1738

Medium

Handscroll: ink on paper

Dimensions

12 × 173 3/8 inches (30.5 × 440.4 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Daisy Yen Wu in memory of Yen Hsiao-fang and Yen Tse-king

Object
Number

79.060.001

A lohan (Sanskrit: arhat) is a disciple of the Buddha and a guardian of the Dharma (Law), who has, t(…)

A lohan (Sanskrit: arhat) is a disciple of the Buddha and a guardian of the Dharma (Law), who has, through devotion to the Law, realized his own buddha nature. In art, lohans are depicted as monks with shaven heads and loose robes who live as hermits in the mountain forests. During the seventeenth century, a revival both of Buddhism and of the baimiao (plain-line drawing) style converged in lohan paintings such as this. The profound self-realization of lohans can be expressed in various ways ranging from the sublime to the eccentric. This painting emphasizes the magical powers of lohans, who, like Daoist masters, possess supernatural abilities to tame natural forces, and to control powerful creatures such as dragons and tigers. During times of drought, lohans were sometimes prayed to for their ability to summon dragons that would bring clouds and rain.

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