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Asian Art
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Buddhist Elders, Arhats Kalika and Vanavasin

17th - 18th century

Ground mineral pigment on cotton

image: 24 3/8 × 15 5/8 in. (61.913 × 39.688 cm)
framed: 42 3/8 × 32 3/8 in. (107.633 × 82.233 cm)
Gift of Alice and Nasli Heeramaneck in memory of Viola and William B. Arvine
1988.76.15
The lush landscape setting in this painting illustrates the sharing of imagery between Buddhist painting in China and Tibet that was common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Arhats are historical or quasi-historical figures believed to have lived in the fifth century B.C.E., the time of Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of the religion. Sets of sixteen or eighteen arhats are commonly shown in Tibetan painting, and this example was most likely part of such a larger group. The two figures, wearing luxurious monastic robes, can be identified by their attributes and settings. The attendant holding golden earrings at lower left identifies the younger figure as Kalika. The ascetic standing to the left of the older arhat identifies him as Vajriputra. The Buddha seated in the sky is Shakyamuni. He is attended by sixteen small bodhisattvas, and two of the kings of Shambhala, a mythical realm often depicted in later Tibetan paintings. Shambhala is the prototype for the Western Shangri-la.
Geography: 
Tibet, China
Status: 
Not on view
Culture: 
Tibetan
Period: 
17th - 18th century
Classification: 
Paintings
Provenance: 

Alice N. Heeramaneck (née Arvine, 1910–1993) and Nasli Heeramaneck (1902–1971), New York; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1988

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.