Portrait of an Arhat

DATE:
17th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Lacquered wood, pigment, gold
CLASSIFICATION:
Sculpture
DIMENSIONS:
Overall: 32 x 28 1/2 x 25 in. (81.28 x 72.39 x 63.5 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
Arts of Asia - Japan, Level 3
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, the Roberta Coke Camp Fund and Lillian B. Clark
OBJECT NUMBER:
1991.381

General Description

This figure of a monk contemplating a lotus flower is a representation of an arhat (Japanese: rakan), one of a group of holy men who were original disciples of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni. Arhats were regarded as having achieved extraordinary spiritual levels but, like bodhisattvas, put off their own enlightenment to help others. Usually appearing in painted or sculptural groups from as few as four to as many as one thousand, the arhats were depicted with portrait-like fidelity as monks and ascetics. Stylistically, this sculpture closely follows the exaggerated realism of China's Ming dynasty (1368-1644) religious sculpture, which was transmitted to Japan in the 17th century with a new sect of Zen Buddhism, known in Japan as Obaku.

Adapted from

  • "Portrait of an arhat (rakan)," in_ Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection,_ ed. Suzanne Kotz (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997), 45.

  • DMA Connect.