The thirteenth arhat, Ingada, a hanging scroll painting

Yuan dynasty, dated 19th day, 2nd month, 5th year of the Zhizheng reign (AD 1345)

Arhat is Sanskrit for an enlightened being (Chinese: luohan) who remained in the mortal world to defend Buddhist doctrine. Their religious authority is derived from a text which was translated into Chinese in AD 654. According to the scriptures, arhats appear to the world like ordinary persons to dispense blessings at a Buddhist celebration, or when good deeds are performed. Although arhats were known in India, it was only in China and Japan that they became a more important focus for worship. There were originally sixteen, but the Chinese expanded the luohan to eighteen.

This depiction of Ingada belongs to a group of eighteen scrolls depicting each of the luohan. The group has since been dispersed. Depicting groups of luohan is a tradition which dates back to the Tang Dynasty. Sculpted images of the luohan are also found throughout temples in China.

Later luohan paintings like this were based on conventions established from earlier works, like those of the monk Guanxiu (832-912). Here, the exaggerated foreign features and curiously gnarled trees seen are references to Guanxiu's 'wild and archaic' style. These contrast with the fine rendering of Ingada's robes, his ornate fan and casual pose adapted by professional painters from the courtly tradition of figure painting. During the Yuan period, coloured luohan paintings were produced by workshops in Ningbo and throughout Zhejiang Province.

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More information


A. Farrer, The brush dances and the ink s (Hayward Gallery, London, 1990)

J. Rawson (ed.), The British Museum book of Chi (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

K. Suzuki (ed.), Comprehensive illustrated cata (University of Tokyo Press, 1982)


Height: 1260.000 mm
Width: 615.000 mm

Museum number

Asia OA 1962.12-8.01 (Chinese Painting Add. 317)


Brooke Sewell Fund


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