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Carved Seated Lohan
Item No. 16266

17th - 18th Century, Buddhist, China
41.5" x 14.5" x 10"
( 105.41 x 36.83 x 25.4 cm)
(H x W x D)

This finely carved seated figure represents a lohan, revered monks in Mahayana Buddhism. Lohan are the major disciples of Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha, who, through their wisdom and asceticism have reached the end of the Eight Fold Path. They have thus reached enlightenment and have escaped the endless cycle of rebirths.

Unlike other Buddhist figures, lohans are not idealized. Rather, they are portrayed, as is this statue, with great detail and realism, with diversified body postures and facial features of typical Chinese personalities in daily life. When they are portrayed as serene beings such as in this image, they are often a form of portraiture in which individual features and personality traits are unusually realistic and lifelike. This statue is typical in portraying an ordinary elderly monk looking pensive in meditation. His face has well defined features, and his down cast eyes below arched eyebrows and slightly pursed mouth create a serene, meditative expression. He is seated and draped in a long priest’s robes the sleeves of which are open and extended, and the robe is crossed at the chest and has a circular ring that ties the drape on the left shoulder. His exposed hand clutches his robe, which falls in graceful folds around his square-toed shoes protruding from the hem of his loose robe.

The Buddha Dhammapada describes the many attributes of an arhat. One of these descriptions, identified as # 96 in Chapter 7, seems especially well captured in this carving: "His thought is quiet, Quiet are his words and deeds, when he has obtained freedom by true knowledge, when he has thus become a quiet man."
This lohan is depicted on a base decorated with a fan. Fans are associated with monks and enlightened beings since they can be used to drive away evil. The fan is also a symbol of goodness because of the phonetic similarity of the word shan which means fan as well as goodness.



The Lohans Place in Buddhism, Buddha Dharma Education Association/ Lohan Statues, Volume 5, #4, August, 2003.

Wolfram Eberhard, A Dictionary of Chinese Symbolism, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986.

Alice Getty, The Gods of Northern Buddhism, Their History and Iconography, New York, Dover Publication, 1988.

Richard Kent, “Depictions of the Guardians of the Law: Lohan Painting in China” in Latter Days of the Law: Images of Chinese Buddhism 860-1850, Marsha Weidner, ed., Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 1994.
Buddha Dharmapada.doc, Chapter 7: The Venerable Arhat

Meher McArthur, Reading Buddhist Art, An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs and Symbols, Thames and Hudson, London, 2002.

Nick Pearce, “Images of Guanxiu's Sixteen Luohan in eighteenth-century China,”
HYPERLINK "" Apollo , November, 2003.

Keith Stevens, Chinese Gods, the Unseen World of Spirits and Demons, Collins and Brown, London, 1997.

Keith Stevens, “Luohans on Chinese Altars: Enlightened Disciples of the Buddha,” Arts of Asia, January-February, 2001, 74-89.

T. Watters, The Eighteen Lohans of a Chinese Buddhist Temple, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Volume 17, 10/2003.

HYPERLINK "" “deities-arahats.”

HYPERLINK "" “Buddha Dhammapada: The Venerable(Arhat).

Select for detailed information about Lohan (Arhats) in Chinese Buddhist Art.

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