This almost life-size seated Buddhist Luohan (disciple of the Buddha) was made c.1484 at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen, South East China. The Emperor at that time was a great connoisseur of porcelain and encouraged the development of coloured porcelain. This Luohan is sitting in meditation and is dressed in Indian robes draped over the left shoulder. The statue is raised on a stoneware base and has a rare inscription which indicates that it was made for the Wang family by craftsmen Liu Zhen in 1484. The commissioning of statuary was a sign of status as well as spiritual merit.
The Chinese word 'Luohan' derives from the Indian Sanskrit word 'Arhat' which refers to 'one who is worthy'. According to tradition, the 16 Luohan's were close personal disciples of Lord Buddha, who requested them to remain alive in this world to enable us to be mindful, develop wisdom and understanding until the advent of Maitreya, the future Buddha.