Subject:the actual painting... surfing arhat ;)
Posted By: Ben Sun, Oct 22, 2023
Maybe it will aid translation to see the actual picture?
I bought it at an us estate auction. no other discription given than "tibetan thangka."
the monetary value is probably low due to the poor condition and so was the estimate.
I was interested in it because I liked the picture of a surfing monk showing a "hang loose" - mudra ;)
...and, more seriously, because the mixture of chinese and tibetan elements was reminding me of a well known series of arhat paintings from ming dynastie, that were part of some "diplomatic exchange" between the chinese emperor and the tibetan gelug order as far as I remember. Attribution varied between china and tibet.
For a long time though I couldn´t figure out which arhat it was?
He didn´t seem to be one of the initial 16 arhats displayed in tibetan art.
My first guess was that this could be from a set depicting the arhats traveling to china, but that lead nowhere.
By chance I stumbled across a celadon plate at auction that showed a similar picture.
Later I found several other pictures from china and japan, mostly 14th century, that were very similar to this one.
the subject was bodidharma crossing yangze river on a reed after his famous encounter with the chinese emperor. One of them is actually already on asianart.com
The similaritys I think are striking, despite the fact that the attributes the arhat (Bodidharma) is holding as well as the mudra he is showing, are diffrent from the chinese "original".
Some of the elemetns, as well as the sun / moon iconography in the top third seemed typically tibetan to me, yet I found no other depiction of bodhidharma anywhere in tibetan art!
I opened the frame to look at the back of the picture and found the blessings in tibetan script as expected.
I showed the pictures to a specialist on tibetan art who told me that I would be on the right track with my attribution, despite the rarity of Bodhidharma as a subject in tibetan art and encouraged me to keep searching...
this is how I ended up here, hoping that translating the chinese (?) script will help to find out more about this riddle...
URL Title :link to a similar painting on asianart.com