Sunday, October 4, 2009

Arhat Resource Page

Whenever working with arhat paintings or sculpture it is always necessary to refer to a list of names and figural images to help with identification. This can be done in several ways, either by simply referring to a Tibetan text such as the Praise of the Sixteen Arhats where each arhat is named and described, or by looking at a single arhat painting, or set of arhat paintings, where the iconography is clear and the names are written beneath each figure, or to look at a set of block print images that have both the images and names for each of the arhats. These are the general approaches to identifying arhat figures when there are no identifying inscriptions on the works themselves.

I hesitate to mention one other approach, but shall do so anyway. An alternate approach is to have memorized all of the arhat names in both Tibetan and Sanskrit and know all of the depictions and attributes for each of the sixteen arhat figures plus knowing the several different systems, or variations, for visually depicting the arhats. The Arhat Resource Page is not necessary with this approach to identifying arhats.

For basic arhat identification the Arhat Resource Page presents first the individual block print images from the Three Hundred Icons published by Raghu Vira and Lokesh Chandra. These images are especially valuable because they provide both the Tibetan name and the Sanskrit name for each of the arhats. Following these essential tools for the identification of arhats are the important Arhat Pages and topics both on the HAR site and as external resources. Navigation is provided as screen capture images along with links.

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