Chinese Paintings of Arhats
As one of the most important religions, Buddhism has profound impact of the Chinese culture and civilizations. Buddhist figures have also become common subjects for artists in the past. I like the massive paintings and sculptures of five hundred Arhats, it is really a brilliant page in Chinese art history.
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The world famous master of Buddhism and art, Master Wan Ko Yee (H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III ) has also painted a few buddhist figure paintings. One of his painting “Venerable Da Li Won”, set the world record in Chinese art history of the highest selling price of paintings by a painter who is still alive. The painting “Venerable Da Li Won”, was sold at US$2,207,912.00 at year 2000.
Venerable Da Li Won, an Arhat, normally is at the one hundred and eight-seventh position of the five hundred Arhat. He is a guardian deity of Buddhism who protects living beings and vanquishes demons. This painting has a noble and sincere expression, an appearance that transcends the mundane. One can easily see that He is not of this mortal world. The depiction of Him in this painting is extremely lifelike. The delicate lines outline the powerful muscles of Venerable Dali, the veins and blood vessels of the whole body are clearly visible. The thin yarns surrounding the waist are as thin as cicada wings. The artist’s meticulous skills are truly extraordinary and superb.
The whole work has a graceful arrangement and conveys a mind-lifting attractiveness. It may seem that the rock and spring branches were casually painted with a small number of brush strokes. Actually, vast experience and profound calligraphic prowess were applied to depict them. Only through skills applied with a completely unfettered hand and mind can one reach this state of mastery in which calligraphy and painting merge. Venerable DaLi is extremely awe-inspiring in both spirit and form. It is absolutely a master piece that combines meticulous brushwork and freehand brushwork.
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