Buddhism is one of the most widely practised faiths in the world. Although it is traditionally practised in Asia, many people in North America, Europe, and other parts of the globe are beginning to follow this belief system that is rooted in Hinduism. The teachings of “the Buddha,” an individual who reached spiritual calm and enlightenment, serve as the primary focus of Buddhist mythology. Despite the fact that Buddhists do not worship the Buddha or any other deities or symbols, Buddhist beliefs and practises have increasingly grown to place a significant emphasis on art and iconography. The image of Buddha shown sitting cross-legged with his hands clasped together is perhaps the most well-known of these symbols; nevertheless, the 18 Lohans or Arhats are also an essential component of every Buddhist monastery.
Lohans are those Buddhist practitioners who have completed the “Eightfold Path” and attained complete spiritual enlightenment. They have attained “Nirvana,” which is the condition of complete emancipation from the desires of this world, and as a result, they are no longer susceptible to reincarnation. Due to the fact that they are everlasting, they have the abilities of guardian angels and are very good at warding against evil. Buddhist temples often have statues or paintings of the 18 Lohan adorning the entryways. This serves two purposes: first, it wards off bad spirits and, second, it enables people to meditate and engage in other forms of spiritual inquiry. There were initially just 16 Lohan, but during the Tang period in China, when the first paintings of the 18 Lohan were produced, two more were added, bringing the total number of Lohan to 18. The 18 Lohan are the most notable Lohan; nevertheless, as many as 500 “lesser” Lohan assist the 18 in protecting the world from harm.
In the year 891 A.D., the first painting of the 18 Lohan was completed. by the Chinese Buddhist monk Guan Xiu, who is claimed to have had a dream visitation from the Lohan. The following is a list of the 18 Lohan as they are typically presented, in the order in which they are said to have appeared to Guan Xiu: Deer Sitting, Happy, Raised Bowl, Raised Pagoda, Meditating, Oversea, Elephant Riding, Laughing Lion, Open Heart, Raised Hand, Thinking, Scratched Ear, Calico Bag, Plantain, Long Eyebrow, Doorman, Taming Dragon, and Taming Tiger. The names of these characters provide some insight into their characteristics, unique abilities, or the spiritual message that they represent. Although Guan Xiu’s paintings are believed to be the canonical representations of the Lohans, other painters have strived to construct their own interpretation of these characters in order to give them their own unique look. These characteristics have been handed down through the course of tales. As a result, representations of the 18 Lohans might seem quite different according on the country in which they were constructed as well as the period of time.
The majority of the time, paintings and pictures of the 18 Lohans are shown in Buddhist temples; nevertheless, many new Buddhists and art collectors have been interested in bringing these figures into their own personal spaces. Small sculptures, paintings, tracings, and engravings of the 18 Lohans are available from a wide variety of sources, and incorporating one or more of these types of artwork into the entryway of your house is a great way to add visual appeal and vibrancy to the space. They are also capable of contributing significantly to the overall value of your collection of Asian art.