This life-sized statue depicts a Luohan (a follower of Buddha gifted with supernatural powers) seated in contemplation.

The statue was made in North China, in the Hebei province, from the Liao dynasty, 907 - 1125 AD. The figure wears a green under-robe, and an orange-brown patchwork robe ornamented with half prunus-blossoms in white on yellow. The patchwork robe is a traditional garment donned by monks as a sign of humility. His elongated ears are an indication of his wisdom. The Luohans that survive from this set are so strikingly individualised they have been considered to be portraits of specific monks.

British Museum

Great Russell Street, London, Greater London, WC1B 3DG
020 7323 8181

Opening times

Daily, 10am – 5.30pm (Fri until 8.30pm) Closed 24 – 26 Dec and 1 Jan