Figure of the monk Ananda - ROM2006_7133_2


Figure of the monk Ananda

Medium:Carved marble
Geography: Reportedly from Shanxi province, China
Date: 8th century AD
Period: Tang Dynasty
169 x 45 x 47 cm
Object number: 922.20.95
Credit Line: The George Crofts Collection
On view
Gallery Location:Matthews Family Court of Chinese Sculpture
DescriptionThe arhat, as monkish type in art, represents the early Buddhist ideal of personal salvation through wisdom and austerity derived from the first followers or disciples of the Buddha. Over time the arhats or, in Chinese, luohan, became more varied in aspect, individual in expression. From about the tenth century AD onward in China the category came to include all kinds of eccentrics, bizarre or often witty. The numbers in set groups expanded from five to eighteen to five hundred and more, not only in painting but also in sculpture. The bland, unlined face of this monk suggests the young disciple Ananda, favoured and addressed often by Shakyamuni Buddha. To understand the possible position of this figure in a group one might turn to Tang Cave 328 at Dunhuang, a cave-temple complex at the Chinese end of the trade and pilgrim routes across Central Asia from India. There a wealth of clay images still stand in their painted settings. Two monks appear in near-identical attitude and dress, a gold-edged, flowered, green undergarment and red overgarment. The younger stands to the right of a centrally enthroned Buddha, the older monk, Kasyapa, at the Buddha's left. The two are flanked by seated and kneeling bodhisattvas. All are ranged against a painted background and under a painted ceiling. The navy top, red belt, and green buckle of this Ananda are not from its original surface. It was originally coated with gesso and then painted with much more detail. An old photo shows, on both front and back of the jiasha, the patched over-garment of a monk in East Asia, traces of Tang floral patterns.
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