Tibet, Pantaka

17th century, Tibet, Pantaka, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

A traditional protrait of this arhat, with a book in one hand and the other doing the gesture of debate or teaching (vitarka mudra).

Undated, arhat, Tibet, gilt copper, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Same iconography, although the head is a different shape.

18th century, Tibet, Pantaka, zitan wood and cold gold, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Here, he holds the book in the left hand and does the mudra with the other.

He wears a meditation cloak decorated with a gold floral motif.

 

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Tibet, unidentified arhats (2)

15th century, Tibet, arhat, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

The only arhat described as an elderly man with a goatee is Bhadra, who normally does the gesture of turning the wheel of dharma with both hands. The above holds a long-life vase and another object.

16th century, arhat, Tibet, gilt copper alloy and pigment, same as before.

Several arhats may hold a manuscript,  but the prayer wheel in the left hand doesn’t correspond to standard iconography.

Undated, arhat, bronze (copper alloy), at the Tibet House Museum in New Delhi, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This old and curious sculpture depicts an arhat holding a small elephant in his left hand. The tiny lion attached to the base points to Chudapantaka, who normally has both hands in the meditation gesture.

16th century circa, Tibet, arhat, copper alloy with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

This remarkable work also departs from any standard arhat iconography. The right hand seems to have held a manuscript, a bowl or an incense burner.

 

Tibet, Gopaka, Kalika, Abheda (2)

14th century, Tibet, Abheda, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Astamangala.

Abheda is the arhat who holds a stupa in both hands.

18th century, Tibet, Gopaka, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Gopaka normally holds a manuscript with both hands, as above.

18th-19th century, arhat, gilt copper alloy, at the British Museum in London (UK).

An inscription on the back of this sculpture tells us that it is devoted to Gopaka. The relatively recent date of the work may explain why it departs from the traditional iconography.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Kalika, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Kalika is the arhat who holds one or two gold loops. The above holds a large one with both hands.

18th century, Tibet, same as before.

This more recent one holds a smaller hoop with a beaded pendant in each hand.

Tibet, Ajita

 

18th century, Tibet, arhat Ajita, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

This arhat is easy to identify because his hands are both in the meditation gesture and his cloak covers his head, two features corresponding to Ajita.

Same as before, photo by Bonhams.

Most sculptures of arhats are relatively late and depict them with several layers of warm clothes, draped in the Chinese fashion.

Same as before, photo by Bonhams.

It is most unusual for him not to have his head covered, however, he is the only arhat whose hands are always held in the meditation gesture and therefore this is probably a portrait of Ajita.

Tibet, Dharmata (2)

15th century, Tibet, Dharmata, gilt copper, published on http://www.castor-hara.com

Dharmata or Dharmatala, attendant to the sixteen arhats, carries buddhist scriptures attached to his back. He is usually depicted seated on a cushion, his legs pendant, a fly whisk (missing here) in his right hand, a vessel (kundika in this case) in the other, his hair fastened in a top knot.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Dharmata, gilt copper alloy, at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena (USA).

The above is seated with his legs in a different position. The straps holding his manuscripts are human limbs.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Dharmata, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

A layman, Dharmata wears warm clothes including a gown fastened with a belt, and thick felt boots. This example holds a long-life vase.

Same as before, wood and cold gold, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

He may be accompanied by a tiger, who sits by his side, as can bee seen on this and the next two images.

18th century, Tibet, Dharmata, gilt copper alloy, same as before.

Like all attendants, the tiger is much smaller than the main figure.

Same as before, at the British Museum in London (UK).

This late work depicts him with Chinese facial features and goatee.

 

Tibet, unidentified arhats

17th-18th century, Tibet, arhat, gilt copper alloy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

17th-18th century, Tibet, arhat, gilt copper alloy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

17th-18th century, Tibet, arhat, copper alloy with traces of gilding, private collection.

17th-18th century, Tibet, arhat, copper alloy with traces of gilding, private collection.

These two sculptures apparently depict the same arhat, who may be Shribhadra. This arhat normally has a moustache and a goatee, visible on the second sculpture, his left hand in the meditation gesture and his right hand in the dharma mudra – but, in both cases above, the right hand does the (very similar) vitarka mudra, with the index and the thumb touching. Of course, it is not uncommon for late sculptures to vary from the traditional iconography. We will note the tiger skin and the throne supported by two lions with a vajra at the centre.

18th century, Tibet, arhat, gilt copper repoussé, photo by Bohnams.

18th century, Tibet, arhat, gilt copper repoussé, photo by Bohnams.

Here the hand gestures correspond to Shribhadra’s.

Labelled ast 14th century, Tibet, arhat, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

Labelled ast 14th century, Tibet, arhat, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

The only arhat who traditionally has his head covered, and both hands in the dhyana mudra, is Ajita, but this arhat holds something in his hands (an open scroll perhaps?), a gesture which would corresponds to Gopaka, who normally holds a manuscript with both hands.

15th century, Tibet, arhat, wood with gold paint, at The Walters Art Museum (USA).

15th century, Tibet, arhat, wood with gold paint, at The Walters Art Museum (USA).

This beautiful wooden sculpture shows an arhat with the left hand cupped to hold an object such as a bowl,  and the right hand extended and perhaps holding a (now missing) object. The character could be Angaja, who holds a fly whisk and an incense bowl, or Nagasena, who holds a vase and a staff with rings

The mystery remains …

Tibet, Ajita and Vanavasin

16th century, Tibet, arhat Ajita, gilt metal,

16th century, Tibet, arhat Ajita, gilt metal, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This arhat is usually depicted with both hands in the meditation mudra and with his head covered.

Undated, Tibet, arhat Vanavasin, copper alloy, same as before.

Undated, Tibet, arhat Vanavasin, copper alloy, same as before.

Vanavasin does a pointing gesture with one hand and holds a fly whisk in the other. It is unusual for an arhat to be squatting, they normally sit with one or both legs folded.