We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


The tenth rakan

14th century


Unknown Artist

Alternate image of The tenth rakan by
Alternate image of The tenth rakan by
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    14th century
    Media categories
    Scroll , Painting
    Materials used
    hanging scroll; ink and colour on silk
    101.1 x 40.5 cm image; 144.0 x 55.5 x 63.0 cm scroll
    Purchased 2005
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    This painting depicts a rakan (Chinese 'luohan', Sanskrit 'arhat'), one of the legendary disciples of the historical Buddha. Images of 'rakan', anthologized into sets of sixteen, eighteen or five hundred, became the focus of ritual observances in Chinese Buddhist temples from the late Tang period (618-900). 'Rakan' paintings were taken to Japan by monks returning from periods of study in China, and were copied and adapted by Japanese artists.

    'Rakan' were commonly portrayed as gaunt old men commanding supernatural powers in remote outdoor settings. This example, probably one of a set of sixteen hanging scrolls, shows a fierce-looking rakan in a mass of swirling clouds with a dragon curled around him and a frightened child attendant hiding under his robes.

    The scroll is finely painted with strong lines and great attention to detail. Cinnabar has been subtly applied to the faces to produce a sculptural, flesh-like effect, while the clouds are softly painted. The brightly-coloured robes and skin of the two figures contrasts boldly with the sombre shades of the surrounding clouds, dragon and rocks. The image is enlivened by the gently comical expression of the boy.

    Asian Art Department, AGNSW, November 2005.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

    • Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–06 Jan 2019

    • Correspondence, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 10 Sep 2022–2024

  • Provenance

    Hashimoto KANSETSU, pre 1945, Japan

    Klaus Naumann, pre Sep 2005, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased from Klaus Naumann by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Sep 2005.