Each realistically rendered in monastic dress and bearing an identifying implement, their heads individualized by lively and sometimes humorous expressions, differing patterns of facial hair and scalp stubble, the details of which are subtly enhanced with black pigment; each supported on a footed wood stand inlaid with wire. 9 1/4in (23.5cm) height of Nantimitolo (figure with dragon) exclusive of stand
Provenance: purchased in the Marshall Islands in 1972, a copy of the original receipt accompanies this lot.
Note: This lot has been in the United States since 1972.
Luohan (sk. Arhat) were beings capable of numerous spectacular displays of superhuman powers due to their high stage of enlightenment and past lifetimes of accrued merit. However, since they have not yet achieved the stage of Buddha or Bodhisattva-hood, they are still technically speaking human beings. As such, artists across the Buddhist world have sometimes taken advantage of this dichotomy to depict Luohan in a wild, humorous or often-times even grotesque manner.
The artisan or atelier responsible for the present lot is no exception. The variety of attributes and facial expressions in this set of luohan are striking displays of technical virtuosity unconcerned with a canonical representation of religious iconography possibly associated with the Eighteen Immortals: two striking examples are the lion cub nipping at the distended earlobe of an obviously annoyed figure possibly depicting Vijraputra, and the intricately rendered Guanyin floating on tufts of ruyi-shaped clouds emerging from raised pagoda of a figure possibly representing Nandimitra.
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