14th Century Stucco Portrait of a Lohan China, Yuan/Ming Dynasty Sculpture
Stucco, pigments, wood, glass
12 x 10 x 10 inches
Lohans are saints that have reached the first stage of Nirvana who may show others the way. They were disciples of Buddha and are known for their compassion and their abilities to overcome afflictive emotions; they eliminate hatred, ignorance and desire. For this they have transcended the mundane world into the blissful state. These achievements, through practice, can be attained in a single lifetime.
The imagery of the Lohan is one of a flesh and blood, mortal human being that, through the teachings of Buddha, has attained enlightenment and release from the cycle of death and rebirth. This is a depiction of a mortal being that has bridged the divide between the sacred and profane realms of existence. The portrayal of such varied individuals beautifully indicates that no matter who you are, where you're from or what you're like, it doesn't matter. Transcendence is available to every sentient being.
Lohan heads are more unusual to find than Bodhisattvas or Buddha heads. This exquisite example bridges the gap between the sacred and profane realms, showing a fully realized human being yet now possessing an etheric quality. It insists that the viewer engage it as mortal who has transcended the cycles of death and birth to nirvana offering hope for the rest of the sentient beings.
This stucco head was originally part of a large complete figure, which undoubtedly, was part of a larger set that included numerous other deities in a large temple complex. They're in excellent condition.