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Arhat Rahula

18th century (Qianlong period)

Rubin Museum of Art

Rubin Museum of Art

Rahula was the Buddha's son and became one of his sixteen original disciples, or arhats. This arhat's chief identifying attribute is a crown, which he holds with both hands at his chest.

This painting is an example of the kind of Tibetan Buddhist art produced in the Manchu Qing imperial court under the Qianlong emperor (reigned 1736-1795). It combines Indian figural models with Chinese landscapes heavy with azurite and malachite. The Chinese blue-green landscape forms have become stylized by Tibetan conventions and populated by buddhas and other sacred figures that are portrayed in a Tibetan manner, such as the red Buddha of Infinite Life (Amitayus) floating at the top of the composition. Especially distinctive is the Chinese auspicious imagery, such as the long-tailed clouds shaped like the ruyi scepter, a rebus for "as you wish" subtly worked into the composition. A pair of male and female supplicants with unusually modeled faces kneel below.

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Details

  • Title: Arhat Rahula
  • Date: 18th century (Qianlong Period)
  • Date Created: 18th century (Qianlong period)
  • Physical Dimensions: 53 x 32.5 in.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Rubin Museum of Art, C2004.9.1
  • Medium: Pigments on cloth
  • Place of Creation: China
  • Exhibition History: Rubin Museum of Art, "The Place of Provenance: Regional Styles in Tibetan Painting" (10/12/12 - 03/25/13), Rubin Museum of Art, "Earthly Immortals: Arhats in Tibetan Painting" (04/04/08 - 08/18/08), Rubin Museum of Art, "What is It? Himalayan Art" (10/27/05 - 06/25/07)

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