Arhat or luohan are enlightened monks that were integrated into Buddhism in China as early as the Tang Dynasty. Traditionally, they are usually depicted in groups of four, five, sixteen, eighteen and five hundred.
In this meticulously painted eleven-meter handscroll, five hundred Luohan are lively depicted within a luxuriant mountainous landscape in the gongbi style. According to the Chinese Buddhist tale, the five hundred luohan lived beyond the stone bridge of Mount Tiantai of the Jiuhua Mountain, located in Zhejiang province of China. As depicted in this painting, the long bridge, blocked by a gigantic stone on one side, is said to be a pathway to heaven. This present painting captures the moment in the story just before the luohan open the stone door to paradise.
Gu Quan was a court painter, active during Qianlong Emperor’s reign and was known for his talent to paint figures.