Head of a rakan, or arhat (Ch. lohan, Sk. arhan), sculpted from a gray-brown igneous stone. Early- to mid-Edo Period ca. 1700, possibly earlier. Minor old loss. Felt-covered wooden stand included.
Height of head: 15 cm
Width: 10.5 cm
Depth: 9 cm
Height of stand: 7.5 cm
Width/depth: 16.5 cm
In Mahayana Buddhism, rakan are ranked just beneath bodhisattva in the hierarchy of enlightenment. Before his death, Shaka (Sk. Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha) is believed to have ordered rakan to live in this world and protect the True Law. Rakan are therefore depicted in the guise of Buddhist priests, with kesa (monk's robe) and shaved head, in groups of either 16 or 18, or, less commonly, 500 figures, some seated and others standing.
This well-preserved example was originally attached to a rakan with height of approximately 75 cm (if a standing sculpture) or 45 cm (if seated). An interesting, uncommon piece, highly collectible.