Known in China as Damo and Daruma in Japan, Bodhidharma was the Indian born Buddhist monk who brought Zen Buddhism to China known there as Chan Buddhism near the beginning of the 6th century C.E and was the first patriarch of the Chinese Zen lineage. He was born the son of a South Indian Bhramin-caste king. His teacher Prajnatara educated him about Buddhism, gave him his Buddhist name and instructed him to transmit the Dharma throughout China and after his teacher’s death, he traveled to China to fulfill his teacher’s request. There, he taught that the Buddhist dharma was merely a guide to enlightenment and that genuine enlightenment is possible only through Dhyana (Zazen, literally “seated meditation”) or very deep contemplation. He was initially rejected in China, became a beggar and moved to Henan Province to Shaolin Monastery where he was rebuffed, and in response practiced Zazen facing a wall for nine years without speaking. This so impressed the Shaolin monks, they allowed him to enter to teach the monks. He is often portrayed in art as an irritable, heavily-bearded, wide-eyed 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, but Mahayana Buddhists were permitted beards, especially after they were ordained. The names under which he is known – Chan in China, Zen in Japan, Sŏn in Korea, and Thien in Vietnam – correspond to dhyana, the Sanskrit word for meditation, the core teaching of the way to enlightenment of the Zen/Chan branch of Mahayana Buddhism. According to Japanese myth, he is also 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. The eyelids took root and sprouted the world’s first tea plant which explains the tea leaf’s shape and its invigorating effects.

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  • Antique Large Lohan, Probably Bodhidharma, China (16436B-WHKE) $7300

    H: 27.5”  W: 12.75”  D: 9.75” | FOR SHIPPING INFORMATION CONTACT US AT 213-568-3030

    This exceptional, masterfully crafted, rare Ming or early Qing woodcarving is an image of the heavily bearded lohan Bodhidharma. As it is similar in size, robes and carving style as the wooden lohan (16436A), it is likely carved by the same artist and displayed among other lohan together. Both images display brilliant treatment of the bone structure, facial features and elaborate natural drapery of the robes and have wonderful warm patina with much of the original lacquer and polychrome remaining.



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