Antique Large Lohan, Probably Bodhidharma, China (16436B-WHKE)


H: 27.5”  W: 12.75”  D: 9.75” | CALL/EMAIL FOR SHIPPING QUOTE

This masterfully crafted rare Ming or early Qing image portrays the heavily bearded Lohan Bodhidharma. Since it is similar to the Large Lohan with Hands in Reverence (16436A) in size, style and robes, it is likely they both were carved by the same artist and displayed together and strongly feel that should be kept together as they were for centuries. Both images display brilliant treatment of the bone structure, facial features and elaborate natural drapery of the robes. The statue has a wonderful warm patina with much of the original red polychrome remaining.




Eighteen arhats in Theravada Buddhism (later called Lohans in Mahayana Buddhism) were the original disciples of Gautama Buddha. While they were able to attain enlightenment and enter nirvana, they instead remained on earth to await the coming of Maitreya, the Buddha of the future and inspire devotees to attain the spiritual purity they represent. Buddhist temples are often lined with the Buddhist-statues of sixteen to eighteen Lohans but there may be hundreds placed both inside and outside the temple. They never appear on the main altar, are worshipped individually or as a group and are rarely offered prayers other than incense placed before them to affirm their compassionate presence. This masterfully crafted large antique-Chinese-wood-carving portrays a hooded, heavily bearded Lohan, probably Bodhidharma. As this figure wears very similar robes, is approximately the same size and our supplier was told these two pieces came from the same temple, it is probable that this Lohan was part of the same Lohan group as 16436A. Both images are brilliant in the treatment of the physiognomy especially the bone structure and facial features such as his deeply and realistically carved beard and eyebrows and the elaborate natural drapery of the robes. He sits in dhyana (meditation) and wears monks-robes of a Lohan indicated by the ring at the shoulder to which the robe is attached used only for Lohans and not monks. The hands are together in the lap and covered by long sleeves, the eyes are lowered in deep meditation and the head is covered with a hood extending over his shoulders on the front and back. Bodhidharma was a monk born in India who is credited with bringing Chan-Buddhism (Zen)  to China and was the first patriarch of the Chinese Zen lineage. Representing his Indian heritage, he is often portrayed as heavily-bearded, non-Chinese person and is referred as “The Blue-Eyed Barbarian” in Chan texts. Although Theravada Buddhist monks were required to shave their head and beard,  Mahayana Buddhists were permitted beards, especially after they were ordained. According to Japanese myth, he is credited with creating the tea plant. While meditating he fell asleep and was so disturbed by his misdeed he tore off his eyelids and threw them on the ground and when they hit the ground, the first tea plants sprang up and became a stimulant that would keep Zazen students awake. He is thus represented with eyes unnaturally wide open and often portrayed as an irritable individual. He is also credited with the creation of Shaolin kungfu. As seen in the back, the statue was originally covered with red paint, much of which remains and it has been consecrated. This image is part of the VA Spiritual-and-Inspirational Collection of Buddhist-Art

Click here for the Blog Consecrating Wooden Images to Imbue Them with A Life Force


Buddha Dharma Education Association, Popular Deities in Chinese Buddhism.


Additional information

Materials and Technique

Wood, polychrome, lacquer

Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 27.5” W: 12.75” D: 9.75”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 69.85cm W: 32.38cm D: 24.76cm


Excellent, fine patina demonstrating age and use

Reference Number


Shipping Box Size