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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Culture: Chinese
Title: Twenty-four lohans
Date: 1738
Medium: Handscroll: ink on paper
Dimensions: Image: 12 x 173 3/8 inches (30.5 x 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
Label Text: 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.


NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.