UA06064 Chinese ink rubbing depicting Panthaka Arhat, no.4 of the 16 arhat images once immortalized in stone at the former stupa at Shengyin Temple. Depicted here sitting on a rock with a book in his left hand and snapping his fingers in his right hand, symbolic of the speed at which he obtained enlightenment, accompanied by a beggar’s bowl and an incense burner, complete with colophons, scroll mounting. This rubbing was taken from the marble stupa at Shengyin Temple which was destroyed in the mid 19th century. The Emperor Qianlong ordered the stone tablets to be carved in 1764 after the arhat designs created by the famed artist Guanxiu (832-912). Condition:Creases from rolling, otherwise fine condition. Mounting: 58” x 22”. 19th Century. Ex Collection: Frank “Till” & Peggy Durdin, San Diego.

For another example of this image rendered in jade and lacquer see: “Screen Paintings of Guanxiu’s Sixteen Arhats in the Collection of the Palace Museum” Luo Wehhua translated by Bruce Doar, Orientations, September 2010, p. 104. In this article the image is identified as the sixteenth arhat Abheda, It is explained in this article that Qianlong re-identified the arhats, thus the 16th Arhat attribution for this image. Also in this article the identical colophon by Qianlong above the image is translated as: “These accurate portraits of the Sixteen Arhats were created by the Tang Dynasty painter Guanxiu, as recorded in Xuanhe Huapu (Record of paintings in the Xuanhe Reign), and during the millennium from the Guangming reign period to the present day, the original works were to be found in Zhejiang, where they were housed in the collection of Shengyin Temple in Qiantang (Huangzhou). In spring of the dingchou year (1757) of his reign, the Qianlong emperor undertook a southern tour of inspection and stayed at an imperial lodge on the West Lake. He went to the temple to pay his respects and there he saw the arhats on display and wrote a description of these marvels. The sequence of the arhats and their names had been passed down since ancient times, but they did not correspond to their Sanskrit titles; the sequence of the arhat names conformed instead to the interpretation of the Sanskrit classics by the Zhangjia State Preceptor. The emperor penned the original names and positions in the sequence below each of the figures in accordance with the readings supplied in Tongwen Yuntong (Unified Rhymes), and below each he penned an encomium, which he signed. Then the images were returned to the collection, to be passed down as a perpetual treasure. Now, the fourth great arhat had long gone missing and we did not know where his painting was. But it was merely a trifling matter of matching the images with the names, and now surely we have found him! This I, the emperor, believe.”

All 16 of these rubbings can be found in the Rubel Chinese Rubbings Collection at the Fine Arts Library of Harvard University with the following descriptive historical note: “Rubbing from stele depicting No. 4 of 16 arhats (Lohans, Buddhist saints) -- Nan ti mi duo luo qing you, Panthaka Arhat.Original painting attributed to Guanxiu, 832-912. Inscriptions written by Hongli, Emperor Qianlong (Gaozong, 1711-1799) of Qing Dynasty. 7 seals of Qianlong follow the inscriptions. Script style: in xing shu. Shi liu zun zhe -- "The 16 noble ones" are 16 lohans. Lohans are also called "a-lo-han" based on the transliteration of the Sanskrit term "arhat." (Japanese: Rakan; Chinese: Lohan; Tibetan: Gnas-brtan). Arhats or Arahants are saints or sages said to have renounced nirvana (freedom from the cycle of suffering and rebirth), vowed to remain in the world to protect the Dharma and propagate the Law of the Buddha in order to devote themselves more effectively to the relief of human misery, like the Bodhisattvas. These 16 Arhats, personal disciples distinguished by the Buddha, formed part of the 500 claimed by tradition to have attended the First Council in Rajagrha. The names and abodes of these 16 arhats are given in a work entitled "Record on the Duration of the Law, spoken by the Great arhat Nadimitra," which was translated into Chinese by the famous pilgrim Xuanzang (596-664) in 654. 16 lohans are quite often represented, especially in China and Japan, in sculpture and painting, in poses and with attributes. Every lohan can be easily with special icongraphic characteristics. Guanxiu (Jiang Deyin or Deyuan, a Buddhist monk also named Master Chan Yue, 832-912) -- painter during late Tang to Five Dynasties, specialized in painting lohan figures. Legend has it that the first portraits of the 18 Lohans were painted by Guan Xiu, in 891 A.D. According to records, it was because of his expert painting skill that the Lohans chose him to paint their portraits. They appeared to him in his dreams to make that request. Guan Xiu often said, "It was in a dream that I saw these Gods and Buddhas. After I woke up, I painted what I saw in the dream. So, I guess I can refer to these Arhats as 'Arhats in a dream.'" Guanxiu depicted lohans in the form of "those beyond this world"-- strangely eccentric. All 16 lohans have bushy eyebrows, large eyes, protruding cheekbones, a long nose, and an Indian or Central Asian countenance; thus it appears very different from that of native Chinese monks. Sheng yin si shi liu zun zhe xiang -- Guanxiu's Portraits of sixteen arhats in Shengyin Temple. It is recorded Guanxiu's 16 Lohans were given to a Buddhist monastery near Qiantang (currently Hangzhou) in the province of Zhejiang. These became famous and were preserved with great care and ceremonious respect. In the reign of Qianlong, Qing Dyansty (c. 1750) an official had copies made by competent artists and sent them to the emperor who had further copies made, printed and distributed. When it was found that names were incorrectly assigned, the emperor took care to see that the copies be compared with the originals and correctly transcribed. Sheng Yin Temple-- located near current Gushan (Solitary Hill) in Hangzhou, Zhejiang ; the temple was destroyed during 1850-1864 by an opposition group called "Tai ping tian guo" ("Heavenly Kingdom of Peace"). Stele date: 8th. mo. of 29th yr. of Qianlong, Qing dynasty (1764).”

For more information on the carvings of Shengyin temple see Apollo Magazine, November 2003.

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