Ming Dynasty Lohan Stone Head

SKU AM.0334
Circa

1368 AD to 1644 AD

Dimensions

8.50″ (21.6cm) high x 7.75″ (19.7cm) wide

Medium

Stone

Origin

China

Gallery Location

UK


 

The Ming Dynasty was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Hans, before falling to the rebellion led in part by Li Zicheng and soon after replaced by the Manchu- led Qing Dynasty. The last of the outstanding dynasties, the Ming was vibrant during its first half but racked with internal discord during its second. Scores of workers constructed the renowned Forbidden City, an imperial palace of staggering proportions and opulence. Ming leaders revived a sense of cultural identity and respect for traditional artifacts and craftsmanship.

Even today, when entering the main hall of a Buddhist temple in China, one will discover two rows of sculpted figures, traditionally numbering eighteen in total. These figures are known as the Eighteen Lohan. Lohan is the Chinese term, derived from the Sanskrit word Arhan, for a disciple or follower of Buddha who has reached a state of enlightenment. The Lohan had been a popular subject in Chinese art at least since the cultural flourishing of the Tang Dynasty. Traditionally, they are always produced in sets of sixteen or eighteen. The numerical difference is a result of discrepancies in Buddhist texts. By the Song Dynasty, artists began to depict each Lohan with individualized facial features. Having achieved enlightenment, Lohans were free from all earthly desires and no longer subject to the cycle of rebirth. In this example the lips are parted to reveal both rows of teeth and the cheeks are dimpled. The eyes are partly closed and the forehead creased. The playful expression and the excellent condition of the piece both add to its appeal.

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