VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Lohan
RKM 1083/86-1915
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The lohans are true masterpieces. Despite the fact that they were cast and probably mass produced, they have a very high artistic quality. They resemble each other in size and execution, but they each have different facial features and intricate details that bring them to life. The sculptures wear different garments and hold different objects in their hands. They are well-preserved and an outstanding source of knowledge regarding Buddhism and the Ming culture’s highly advanced handicraft skills. Josefin Kilner, Curator, Röhsska Museum

History of the Object
The Röhsska Museum has four characteristic examples of so-called Lohans. The sculptures were created in China during the Ming period, during Emperor Cheng Hua’s reign. They are representative of excellence in handicraft and were assembled from cast iron parts. Lohan means holy man. The Lohans were among Buddha’s personal disciples and were holy men who were thought to have supernatural powers. They were considered to have achieved Nirvana and acted as Buddhism’s protectors. The Lohans have facial features typical of holy men: long ear lobes and round marks on their foreheads. One of the sculptures is holding a fo dog – a Chinese lion – in his arms. The fo dog is a symbol of strength and stamina. Another of the sculptures holds a dragon grasping after a sphere, which may be associated with the power of the sun. The lohans were purchased in Henan in 1914 by Röhsska Museum’s representative, Thorild Wulff. They were previously in a temple, standing in line along one wall of the temple hall. They are now on permanent display in the museum’s exhibition of Chinese handicraft.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Cast iron 
Measurements
Height 78–79 cm  
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
unknown 
Where it was made
Henan; China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 15th century ~ AD 15th century 
Creation date
15th Century; 1477, Ming period 
Function
Lohan means holy man. The Lohans were among Buddha’s personal disciples and were holy men who were thought to have supernatural powers. They were considered to have achieved Nirvana and acted as Buddhism’s protectors. 
Acquisition
Purchased in China by Thorild Wulff for the Röhsska Museum, 1914. Gift to the museum’s Hjalmar Wijk collection. 
Copyright
The Röhsska Museum 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
The Röhsska Museum 
Museum
The Röhsska Museum, of Design, Fashion and Decorative Arts 
Credit line
Gift from Hjalmar Wijk 

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