STYLE: The genre of the sixteen arhats was adopted from China, and blue-green landscapes are an integral part of these paintings. In Tibetan depictions of this genre the landscape opened up more and more over time, and only the rocky outcrop on which the arhat is seated remains as a reflection of Chinese models in this recent version. Also the diagonal composition indicates that this painting was part of a set with the arhat directed towards the central Buddha. That this painting is rather recent can also be deduced from the realistic rendering of two small gray elephants in the foreground.

CONTENT: Advanced in age, as typical of the group of sixteen arhats, Bakula is shown wearing loose monastic robes in red, green, and blue. He holds a brown mongoose with both hands, which ejects wish-fullfilling jewels from its mouth. Along with the pearls assembling around the rock, the snow-capped mountains in the background, the abundance of water, and the peony in the foreground are indicators for an auspicious setting. Two small pairs of animals, snow lions on top of the mountains and elephants in the foreground, further emphasize this theme. In the top-left corner are two buddhas from the set of the “Thirty-five Buddhas of Confession,” namely Ratnaprabha and Nagaraja.


  • Title: Arhat Bakula
  • Date: 18th-20th century
  • Date Created: 18th-20th century
  • Physical Dimensions: 23 x 15 3/8 in.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Rubin Museum of Art, C2006.66.165
  • Medium: Ground mineral pigment on cotton
  • Place of Creation: Eastern Tibet
  • Exhibition History: Rubin Museum of Art, "Masterworks: Jewels of the Collection" (02/06/13 - 01/13/14), Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, "Portals to Shangri-La: Masterpieces from Buddhist Mongolia" (01/30/06 - 08/06/06)

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