Height: 1690.000 mm
Width: 870.000 mm
Asia OA 1983.7-5.02 (Chinese Painting Add. 442)
Four luohans and attendants, a hanging scroll painting
Possibly from Zhejiang,
Ming dynasty, 15th-16th century AD
Buddhist enlightened beings
This scroll may have belonged to a series of
scrolls which depicted all sixteen
The painting shows how the conventions of luohan paintings were continued from the Song and Yuan periods (10th-14th century). It was painted before the resurgence of the baimiao ('fine line') style by artists like Ding Yunpeng in the later Ming period.
The foreign-looking figures are one of the conventions of luohan painting, from the same tradition as a painting of Ingada in The British Museum's collection. The figure wears a halo and has a Chinese appearance, which derives from a naturalistic style of portraiture. The earliest depiction of an arhat exhibiting these qualities may be found from a Dunhuang painting of the arhat Kalika by a Tibetan artist.
The rocks and vegetation are rendered in ink wash and a variety of textured strokes, in a similar way to the academic style of the Zhe school. (See for example, the painting attributed to Jiang Song, Taking a lute to visit a friend.)
A. Farrer, The brush dances and the ink s (Hayward Gallery, London, 1990)