Seated Luohan from China [Object of the Day #17]

July 9, 2012

Luohan Statue from China
Luohan Statue from China

The Penn Museum’s luohan is one of the most famous and important pieces in the museum’s collection. The fact that it is slightly larger than life size makes it a marvel of technology. Firing something so big  is extremely hard to do without destroying the piece in the process.  The modeled  facial features also imply that the statue is based on an actual person. Numerous articles and talks have resulted from the fact that this luohan comes from a group of similar  sculptures found in a cave in Yi county near Beijing. Luohan statues are known to be created in groups of  sixteen or eighteen although they can reach as many as five hundred. The other luohans found with the Penn Museum statue are at the Royal Ontario Museumthe British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Artthe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Two other pieces are suspected to be from the same group, one is in the  Guimet Museum collection and the other is in a private collection in Japan.

Penn Museum Object #C66A,B.

See this and other objects like it in Penn Museum’s Collection Database.