Arhat and Bodhisattva


 

Arhat (Luohan)


In Theravada Buddhism, an Arhat (Sanskrit: अर्हत् arhat; Pali: arahant; "one who is worthy") is a "perfected person" who has attained nirvana. In other Buddhist traditions the term has also been used for people far advanced along the path of Enlightenment, but who may not have reached full Buddhahood.

The understanding of the concept has changed over the centuries, and varies between different schools of buddhism and different regions. A range of views on the attainment of arhats existed in the early Buddhist schools. The Sarvāstivāda, Kāśyapīya, Mahāsāṃghika, Ekavyāvahārika, Lokottaravāda, Bahuśrutīyas, Prajñaptivāda, and Caitika schools all regarded arhats as being imperfect in their attainments compared to buddhas.

Mahāyāna Buddhists are urged to take up the path of a bodhisattva, and to not fall back to the level of arhats and śrāvakas. The arhats, or at least the senior arhats, came to be widely regarded as "moving beyond the state of personal freedom to join the Bodhisattva enterprise in their own way".

In later Mahāyāna Buddhist tradition a group of Eighteen Arhats with names and personalities were regarded as awaiting the return of the Buddha as Maitreya, and other groupings of 6, 8, 16, 100, and 500 also appear in tradition and Buddhist art, especially in East Asia. They can be seen as the Buddhist equivalents of the Christian saints, apostles and early disciples and leaders of the faith. (Wikipedia)

Eighteen Arhats1

Eighteen Arhats

Eighteen Arhats by Chen Xuanxing, Inscription by Muan,color on silk, 18 hanging scrolls, Manpuku-ji Temple, Japan
The Eighteen Arhats (Chinese: 十八羅漢/十八阿羅漢; pinyin: Shíbā Luóhàn/Shíbā āLuóhàn; Wade-Giles:Lóhàn) are depicted in Mahayana Buddhism as the original followers of the Buddha who have followed the Eightfold Path and attained the Four Stages of Enlightenment. They have reached the state of Nirvana and are free of worldly cravings. They are charged to protect the Buddhist faith and to await on earth for the coming of Maitreya, a prophesied enlightened Buddha to arrive on earth many millennia after Gautama Buddha's death and nirvana. In China, the eighteen arhats are also a popular subject in Buddhist art, such as the famous Chinese group of glazed pottery luohans from Yixian of about 1000. (Wikipedia)

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

 

Eighteen Arhats

Eighteen Arhats

Eighteen Arhats by Kawamura Jakushi, Inscription by Yinyuan,color on silk, 18 hanging scrolls, Shomyo ji Temple, Japan

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

 

Angry Arhat

Angry Arhat 

Angry Arhat
Painting on silk, 29.0 x 47.5 cm. Foothills near Turfan, 8th -9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7241)


To understand the essence of Buddhism, one must have a clear picture of the sort of person it aimed to produce and the kind of perfection its adepts were supposed to strive after. The ideal man is known as an arhat (from the Sanskrit root arb, "to deserve, be worthy"), or one who is worthy. Free from sensual desires and the longing for existence, he has severed his worldly connections. In the early days of Buddhism all Buddhist ascetics were given this title; later only the wise ones were thus designated.

Among Buddhist works of art many idealized portraits of arhats have been preserved. An arhat is usually depicted as a venerable old man with a bald head and an austere expression. In this fragment of a silk painting his look is more one of irritability or anger. He has turned to face his left; his right arm is raised with the hand clenched in a fist, while he thrusts out his left hand and arm in a defensive gesture. His head is thrown back, with a furious glint in the eyes, and the mouth is open in a scream. He seems to be trying with all his might to ward off evil, hostile spirits. Brownish-skinned, he has a muscular physique; his head is shaven but the hair appears to be growing again. Under the shaggy brows the whites of the eyes are slighdy tinged with red. A simple nimbus shows this monk to be a holy man. The picture, with its gray-green background enlivened with dabs of color, betrays the hand of a master of free expression.

Seated Arhat

Seated Arhat 

Seated Arhat
Wood, H. 11.2 cm. Khocho, 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 6110)


The function of this carving is easily deduced from the metal fittings on the right: it is part of a portable triptych. The bald arhat is seated on a lotus pedestal. He wears a robe that covers both shoulders. His head is encircled by a nimbus terminating in a point like a leaf. The face is round, the narrow eyes with their heavy lids are open. The arhat's right hand rests on his lap, his left holds a spherical object in front of his chest. His right leg rests on the seat, while the left foot hangs down and is supported by a small lotus.

Traces of white paint show that the figure was originally colored. The back of the niche has been left in its natural state.

 

Nanda

The Cowherd Nanda 

The Cowherd Nanda
Wall painting, 60x33 cm. Kizil, Cave of the Statues, ca. 500
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8838)


This belongs to a series of wall paintings of the preaching Buddha that were found in one of the oldest caves at Kizil, the Cave of the Statues, named from the quantity of clay figures discovered there.

Buddhist literature contains numerous references to sermons that the Buddha is said to have preached during his wanderings. Many of these are quoted at length, in order to pass on to the faithful the moral tenets they enjoin. Pictures being more effective than words, it is not surprising that Buddhist artists should have taken up the theme and depicted it in so many variations. Scenes of preaching are particularly common in the cave monasteries of Central Asia, where one type of composition dominates: the Buddha seated in the center, his hand raised in the gesture of teaching, with only the attributes, figures, or animals that surround him varying with the particular sermon represented. This fragment once belonged to such a scene.

Part of the Buddha's mandorla, right arm, and knee are visible in the upper right corner. At the lower right we see a brook, a swirl of green with a red blossom floating on it. Two cattle, one dark in color and the other white, lie on the ground behind the central figure. This is the cowherd Nanda, who, resting on his gnarled stick, watches over his animals as he listens devoutiy to the words of the Buddha. So deep is his concentration that he is oblivious of the poor frog he is crushing beneath his stick. The frog, so the legend goes, would have escaped if it had not meant disturbing Nanda's attention; the frog will be rewarded by being reborn as a god, while Nanda will enter the Buddhist order.

View the image detail of the Cowherd Nanda

Mahakashyapa

Head of Mahakashyapa 

Head of Mahakashyapa
Wall painting, 46.5 x 71 cm. Kizil, Cave above the Largest Cave, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8373a)


High above the Largest Cave and difficult to reach is a small temple of the usual type, consisting of a cella with an icon platform and an ambulatory at the back wall. The paintings in this cave have been destroyed, all except for two small fragments, of which this is one. It represents Mahakashyapa, one of the Buddha's best-known pupils.

His head is inclined before a flowered background; his hair is cut short and shaved back from his temples in two wings. The eyes, eyebrows, and nose are strongly accented. Mahakashyapa's face is framed by a light blue beard of the same color as his hair. His earlobes have been distended by the weighty earrings he once wore; his neck, chin, and mouth are heavily lined. A fragment of his green patchwork robe is preserved on his shoulder.

This wall painting belongs to a depiction of a Mahaparinirvana scene, as we may conclude from similar, better-preserved paintings. It is from the Mahaparinirvanasutm, a Sanskrit text found in Central Asia, and its parallels in Pali, Tibetan, and Chinese, that we learn of the events that took place shortly before and after the death of the Buddha (Waldschmidt 1948, Bareau 1970).

All these texts give almost the same description re- garding the preparation of the final resting place of the Buddha. He asked his favorite disciple, Ananda, to make a place ready between two shala trees in a forest near Kushinagara. The Buddha wished to lie on his right side, his head pointing north. The shala trees bloomed out of season, strewing his body with flowers while celestial music sounded. The texts mention several other events of less importance in this connection, such as the last instructions of the Buddha concerning his doctrine and his community, and two final conversions. Then, after having pointed out the transience of the samskaras and having admonished his monks to improve themselves continually, the Buddha attained nirvana.

At that time Mahakashyapa was not with the Buddha but on his way from Pava to Kushinagara with a great congregation of monks. He stopped to speak to a brahman who had come from Kushinagara bringing a mandamka-flower from the celebration held in honor of the Buddha. From this man he learned that the Parinirvana had taken place seven days before. Mahakashyapa went immediately to the cremation ground, where, finding the body of the Buddha lying in an oil-filled vessel, he lifted it out, washed and anointed it, and wrapped it in fresh cloths. Then he placed the body on the pyre and set it aflame.

Depictions of Mahakashyapa are very often found in connection with the Parinirvana of the Buddha. To judge from its expression of deep grief, the present image was no exception, although it is now impossible to determine whether Mahakashyapa was shown kneeling at the head of the Buddha or at his feet during the cremation.

 

Hanging Scroll of an Indian arhat

Hanging Scroll of an Indian arhat

#1: Hanging Scroll of an Indian arhat by Japanese painter Shiba Kokan, Located in National Palace Museum, Taipei.

Image source: en.wikipedia.org

Luohan, hanging scroll

Luohan, hanging scroll

#2: Luohan, hanging scroll, ink and color on silk, 118.1 x 56 cm. Located at the National Palace Museum, Taipei.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Seated luohan

Seated luohan

#3: Seated luohan, Liao dynasty (907–1125), ca. 1000 Yixian, Hebei Province, China Earthenware with three-color (sancai) glaze
#3b: Larger image 

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org
Image source: www.flickr.com/photos

Seated luohan

Seated luohan

#4: Seated Luohan (Chinese Yuan dynasty 1279-1368 CE) Wood gesso and polychrome

Image source: www.flickr.com


Wooden statue of an arhat

Wooden statue of an arhat

#5: This wooden statue of an arhat is located in the Quan Am Pagoda, Cho Lon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Arhat

The Arhat Panthaka Arhat

#6a: The Arhat Panthaka, Japan, Nanbokucho period (1336-1392), 14th century, Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk
#6b: One of Sixteen Arhats color on silk. 96 cm x 53 cm, hanging scroll Set of 16 hanging scrolls, 11th century Heian period, Tokyo Tokyo National Museum

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org#6b: Arhat

Furious Arhat

Furious Arhat

#7: Furious Arhat (Zorniger Arhat) collected by German expedition to Turkestan in the early 20th century from the foothills near Turfan. Painting on silk, Dating from the 8/9th centuries CE.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Arhat

Arhat

#8: Arhat

Image source: photobucket.com


Luohan fish

Luohan fish

#9: Luohan fish: A flowerhorn (cichlid hybrid) from The 6th "Pramong Nomjai Thaituala" Thailand Tropical Fish Competition 2007. (Won consolidation prize)

Image source: en.wikipedia.org
Reference: en.wikipedia.org: Cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlid

#10: Flowerhorn Cichlid (Tan King strain)
Comment: Arhat incarnate as fish

Image source: en.wikipedia.org
Reference: en.wikipedia.org: Flowerhorn Cichlid

Oranghutan

Oranghutan

#11: Funny Ape - Oranghutan
Comment: Arhat incarnate as oranghutan

Image source: photobucket.com
/www.google.com

Ven Bakula Rinpoche

Ven Bakula Rinpoche

#12: Ven Bakula Rinpoche, recognized by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of Bakula Arhat
Comment: Bakula Arhat incarnate

Image source: www.lawudo.com


Luohan Laundering

Luohan Laundering

#13: Luohan Laundering, by Lin Tinggui, painted in 1178 during the Song Dynasty: Five Chinese Buddhist luohan (arhats) and one attendant wash clothes in a stream and hang them up to dry.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

16 Arhats

16 Arhats

#14: The Sixteen Arhats by Juroku-rakan-zu, (1615 - 1865) Edo Period, Hanging scroll, color on silk.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

500-Luohan Hall

500-Luohan Hall

#15: 500-Luohan Hall, Beijing, China

Image source: www.chinatravelguide.com

500-Luohan Hall

500-Luohan Hall

#16: 500-Luohan Hall, Beijing, China

Image source: www.chinatravelguide.com

 

 





Bodhisattva


 

Bodhisattva (Museum fur Indische Kunst, Berlin)

Head of a Bodhisattva  Head of a Bodhisattva

Head of a Bodhisattva
Left: Clay, painted, H. 38.0 cm. Kizil, Cave of the Statues, 6th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7920)
Right: Clay, painted, H. 27.0 cm. Kizil, Cave of the Statues, 6th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7882)


LEFT:
Most of the sculptures from the cave temples of the Kucha oasis, though they originated at the same time as the wall paintings, no doubt continued to be produced in the same style for a much longer period. This is because they were not individually created but made from molds. A great number of stucco molds have survived, some of which bear Sanskrit names on the reverse, probably those of the craftsmen who made them or whose property they were.

Since chalk and stone are rare in the loess regions of Eastern Turkestan, the artisans had no choice but to use clay as raw material for the manufacture of religious images. To the clay they added chopped straw, plant fibers, or animal hair for greater durability. Small figures were built up on a wooden cross as armature, larger ones on a core of stone. Head and limbs were molded separately out of the kneaded and compressed clay mix, then attached to the torso. The artist completed the fine modeling of the figure with a thin layer of liquid clay, applied a ground coat of stucco, and painted it. The sculptures on exhibit show what attractive effects could be obtained by this method. Buddhas and bodhisattvas were the beings most commonly represented, followed by devatas, those nu- merous, nameless Buddhist deities.

It is well to remember when contemplating this fine head of a bodhisattva that life-sized figures seldom appeared alone, but were part of a larger tableau consisting of several sculptures and sometimes paintings as well.

The bodhisattva has regular features, and his forehead and face are framed by curls represented as stylized S-curves. The almond eyes, flaring nostrils, and finely drawn mustache are found, with only slight variation, in other figures from the Kucha region. An individual touch is given by the crown, an imaginative combination of wreath and lotus blossom, with a tassel of hair hanging from its center.

RIGHT:
The coloring of this head is very similar to that of the left, but its expression is quite different. The broader face with its short, hand-modeled nose, the leftward glance of the eyes, and the eyebrows whose painted line diverges from that of the sculpture, all give it a peculiarly individual touch. The individuality of the face is heightened still more by the treatment of crown and hair. The crown consists of a red-and-green wreath with two slanting ornamental disks on top.

The range of colors used in both this head and left image is commonly found in the early phase of the first Indo-Iranian style. Their stylistic correspondence to the wall paintings of the period allows us to date them at about the same time as the paintings found in the Cave of the Statues.

Bodhisattva

Bodhisattva 

Bodhisattva
Embroidery, 40x23 cm. Khocho, 9th- 10th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4796)


This fine fragment of embroidery shows a bodhisattva, with a mustache and a tuft of beard on his chin, seated on a lotus throne, his knees parted and his legs crossed. The hands are crossed in front of the chest. The features are East Asian. On the shoulders lie neatly arranged tresses of long hair. The upper part of the body is naked and hung with sumptuous chains.

The fragment is of special interest in that it shows, as Waldschmidt points out, how different embroidery techniques were used to create the various effects.

The type of stitch often changes according to the desired effect. The bodhisattva's body is entirely worked in chain stitch. The thread is flesh-colored for the actual skin; eyes, brows, and beard are black, the mouth and the contours of the body dull red.

The throne, hair, and various articles of clothing are embroidered all over with closely packed satin stitch, which often overlaps. This also seems to be the case with the background.

Silk is used for both types of stitch, for the chain stitch in the form of a fine, slightly twisted thread, and for the satin stitch an open, multifilament floss.

A third technique to be observed in this fragment is the appliquding of strips of gilt paper. The oudines of the hair, garments, and throne and all of the jewelry are formed from strips of paper just over two millimeters thick, held in place by transverse stitches.

This fragment is not the only one of its type in the Berlin collection, but as a picture it is probably the most complete that the museum possesses.

 

Bodhisattva

Head of a Bodhisattva (?)  A Bodhisattva in a Mountain Cave

Head of a Bodhisattva (?)"   A Bodhisattva in a Mountain Cave

Left: Painting on cloth, 13.0 x 10.3 cm. Turfan region, 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 609)
Right: Wall painting, 25x22 cm. Khocho, 8th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4466)


LEFT: This pai/nting on one side of a bast-type fabric shows a richly decked male head, with a curling mustache and a tuft of beard. The face is colored lilac. The ears are adorned with very large disks reminiscent of lotus blossoms. Note the vertical third eye on the forehead.

RIGHT: Where precisely this miniaturelike painting was found is not known. The scene is in the mountains, with thick clouds overhead. The small form of a bodhisattva sits meditating in a cave. A large nimbus surrounds his head, on which he wears a diadem mounted with small disks. A similar necklace rests on the chest; the upper arms and wrists are adorned with bangles. A scarf is realistically draped around his shoulders, its ends flowing over his upper arms down to the ground. A brahman approaches the cave from the right.

Bodhisattva

Bodhisattva   Bodhisattva

Bodhisattva   Bodhisattva

Left: Painting on silk, 34.5 x 27.5 cm. Khocho, 9th- 10th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 6166)
Right: Painting on silk, 15.0 x 9.5 cm. Khocho, 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4794)


Left: This fragment shows the head and shoulders of a bodhisattva. The face is of a yellowish hue, picked out with reddish lines. Its East Asian features are evident, although the picture seems to have been based on an Indian model and adapted to the East Asian style. The urna on the forehead is drawn as a large circle. The bodhisattva Wears a magnificent, richly decorated, gold crown and an elaborate, colorful costume. Long tresses of hair are neady arranged on the shoulders, behind which part of the mandorla that surrounded the figure can be seen; there is a complementary nimbus around his head.

Right: What we see in this fragment may be a pradakshina bodhisattva who, in circumambulating an effigy of the Buddha, carries a thin, red, lighted candle. Parts of the painting are very faded, particularly the hair and nimbus. As a result, there is a delicacy of coloring that lends the image a special charm.

The bodhisattva is portrayed in three-quarter profile, facing left; his earlobe has stretched considerably under the weight of his earring. The elegant, decorative head-dress displays a diadem and two lotus blossoms. An elaborate chain is worn around his neck.

 

Bodhisattva

Worshiping Bodhisattva   Bodhisattva

Worshiping Bodhisattva   Bodhisattva

Left: Wall painting, 63.0 x 31.5 cm. Kumtura, Temple 12, 8th-9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8377)
Right: Painting on ramie, 51.5 x 22.5 cm. Turfan region, 8th -9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 521)


Left: This fragment is one of the finest examples of richly colored mural painting in the entire Central Asian collection. It is from the wall to the right of the door in Temple 12 in Kumtura. Next to a meander strip that forms the right-hand border of the picture is the figure of a worshiping bodhisattva. There is a large nimbus round his head, and his hair is tied with a band below the topknot. The upper part of his body is draped with fluttering scarves. A garment made up of two different-colored parts hangs down from the hips, around which a white cloth is tied. The partially preserved figure on the left, wearing rich ornaments and a crown, holds an Indian manuscript. In the lower right-hand corner is a head in profile with an oblique nimbus. Below and to the left, the remains of a head and nimbus are visible.

Right: The bodhisattvas on either side of this banner each stand on a lotus pedestal, hands joined in front of the chest. Behind the head is a nimbus; no name has been inscribed in the cartouche beside it. The figures differ only in details, such as hair ribbons, length of hair (falling to the shoulders or down the back), and, in part, the color and patterns of the clothing. To prevent the image showing through on the other side of the fabric, the figures were painted with the aid of stencils so that their outlines would practically correspond. The use of stencils in monastery workshops was un-avoidable because of the great demand for paintings and the strict iconographic requirements.

The background is decorated with floral motifs; the colors red, vermilion, blue, and green are by now very faded.

This simple and unpretentious stencil painting reveals Chinese influence both in the slighdy modulated brushwork of the ink lines and in the full-bodied physique of the bodhisattvas, reflecting Pang aesthetic ideals.

Bodhisattva

Bodhisattva 

Bodhisattva
Painting on ramie, 55.0 x 25.5 cm. Yarkhoto, 8th- 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 6304)


This temple banner could almost have been painted with the same stencil as No. 126. Again there is no inscription in the cartouche, making precise iconographic identification impossible. Portrayed in three-quarter profile, the bodhisattva looks to the right with hands joined before the chest. Despite the banner's poor state of preservation, its original form is still clear. Visible in the triangular section sewn to the top is the faint image of a Buddha seated in meditation, his head and torso backed by a nimbus and mandorla; the left and right corners are filled in with a foliate design.

 

The Self-immolation of a Bodhisattva

The Self-immolation of a Bodhisattva 

The Self-immolation of a Bodhisattva
Wall painting, 30.0 x 25.5 cm. Kizil, Cave of the Musicians, 600-650
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8390)


The scene represented here has not yet been identified. It shows a male deity standing under a tree who is about to cut his throat with a long sword. In front of him, to his right, kneels a woman with a child in her arms. The baby seems to be very ill. Is the swaddling in which its tiny body is completely wrapped meant to symbolize the nearness of death? The male figure, we may assume, represents the bodhisattva who sacrifices himself to save the child.

Blood offerings of this kind are depicted in many of the Kizil paintings. In the Prayer- Wheel Cave, for instance, we find an illustration of the Rupavati Avadana, a legend in which the Bodhisattva, in the guise of a noblewoman by the name of Rupavati, cuts off her breasts to feed a starving woman who was about to eat her own child. 1 The same story occurs in the Cave of the Musicians. 2 In both paintings, as in the present one, the baby is fully swaddled. But as Waldschmidt proves, this particular scene is an illustration neither of the Rupavati legend nor of the Sujata Avadana.

The Self-immolation of a Bodhisattva

The Self-immolation of a Bodhisattva 

The Self-immolation of a Bodhisattva
Wall painting, 30.0 x 25.5 cm. Kizil, Cave of the Musicians, 600-650
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8390)


The scene represented here has not yet been identified. It shows a male deity standing under a tree who is about to cut his throat with a long sword. In front of him, to his right, kneels a woman with a child in her arms. The baby seems to be very ill. Is the swaddling in which its tiny body is completely wrapped meant to symbolize the nearness of death? The male figure, we may assume, represents the bodhisattva who sacrifices himself to save the child.

Blood offerings of this kind are depicted in many of the Kizil paintings. In the Prayer- Wheel Cave, for instance, we find an illustration of the Rupavati Avadana, a legend in which the Bodhisattva, in the guise of a noblewoman by the name of Rupavati, cuts off her breasts to feed a starving woman who was about to eat her own child. 1 The same story occurs in the Cave of the Musicians. 2 In both paintings, as in the present one, the baby is fully swaddled. But as Waldschmidt proves, this particular scene is an illustration neither of the Rupavati legend nor of the Sujata Avadana.

 

Four Bodhisattvas

Guan Yin Bodhisattva (Avalokitesvara)

Guan Yin Bodhisattva (Avalokitesvara)

Guan Yin Bodhisattva (Avalokitesvara), 33 metres, bronze plated statue at Putuoshan (Mount Putuo), Zhejiang, China

Image source: www.flickr.com
References: Guan Yin   Avalokitesvara   Mount Putuo

Manjusri Bodhisattva

Manjusri Bodhisattva

Manjusri Bodhisattva statue at Mount Wutai, Shanxi, China,
Additional image   Source

Image source: www.chinaculture.org
References: Manjusri  Mount Wutai

Puxian Bodhisattva (Samantabhadra)

Puxian Bodhisattva (Samantabhadra)

Puxian Bodhisattva (Samantabhadra) statue at Mount Emei, Sichuan, China
Additional image   Source

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org
References: Samantabhadra   Mount Emei

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva statue at Mount Jiuhua, Anhui, China,
New 99-meter-tall Ksitigarbha statue being built at Mount Jiuhua (Link 1)  Link 2
Additional images (Link) 

Image source: www.fjbk.cn
References: Ksitigarbha   Mount Jiuhua


 

 

The Goddess Hariti

The Goddess Hariti

The Goddess Hariti 

The Goddess Hariti
Painting on ramie, 37.0 x 51.0 cm. Yarkhoto, 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 6302)


This painting represents the goddess Hariti, the tutelary goddess of children. Enthroned on a richly ornamented seat, she faces left and nurses a baby cradled in her right arm. On her head she wears a carmine-red kerchief lined in white, with a decoratively embroidered border, which is secured by means of two lateral ribbons at ear level tied in a bow at the back. A yellow-and-red nimbus surrounds Hariti's head. Her only jewels are earrings and a string of beads lying snugly around the neck. The collar and edges of her orange-red robe, which reaches down to her feet and is fastened in the middle, are decorated with an embroidered border identical to that on the kerchief. The robe is patterned with yellow lozenges divided into four by two black lines at right angles to each other. Her right foot, the only one remaining, is shod in a neat, dark slipper like a ballet shoe and rests on the base of the throne.

Hariti is the central figure in a group of eight small children at play. Reminiscent of chubby Chinese cherubs, their bodies are naked apart from a loincloth passing between the legs and tied in a bow at the back. They are occupied in various activities: some are playing ball, one is plucking a stringed instrument, one is carrying a bowl of melon slices, and another has a pitcher on his head.

Princess and Child

Princess and Child 

Princess and Child
Embroidery, 17.5 x 14.0 cm. Khocho, 9th- 10th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4920b)


This very fine, skillfully executed embroidery is a product of the same techniques as those used in No. 145 (Image of 'Bodhisattva' above). The subject is a Uighurian princess with her daughter. The aristocratic-featured woman grasps the stem of a flower in both hands. She wears her hair high and bedecked with ornaments. Her robe is fastened down the middle and topped with a collar — a style of costume recalling that of the princesses portrayed in the wall painting of No. 109. A remarkable fact is that mother and daughter appear to be on cushions of a lotus-blossom design, such as are normally reserved for the Buddha.