Title:The Arhat Rob-abyorArtist:Artist UnknownDate:18th centuryCreation Place:Asia, NepalCredit Line:The John R. Van Derlip FundAccession Number:70.42
In this thanka the arhat Rob-abyor sits on an elaborate throne in a landscape setting and blesses one of his disciples. Rob-abyor holds a sacred text in his left hand, and his throne is supported by a lotus rising from the water. Shakyamuni Buddha, in the earth-touching gesture, occupies the upper left-hand corner.
Through meditation, an arhat releases himself from worldly existence and thus will enter Nirvana upon the death of his physical body. The cult of the arhat, particularly sets of sixteen arhats as they are often represented, originated in India but became especially popular in Tibet and China.
This thanka from eastern Tibet shows the strong influence of Chinese painting in its landscape composition, lacquered throne and patterned lotus pedestal. A Chinese mythological animal of good fortune (ch’i-lin), grasping a flower in its mouth, swims across the water in the lower right-hand corner.