贯休  Guanxiu — The 16 Luohans
(the stone engravings)

The Eighteen Luohans are the original followers of the Buddha who have reached the state of Nirvana and are free of worldly cravings. [1]
The boldness of Guanxiu's luohan drawings is artistically exemplary in my view so I put them here on my web page.
Even after its long way through many steps of reproduction the original artwork speaks to us as unbelievable expressive, vivid and freely developed portraits.

The steps of reproduction from original to this article are:

  1. Chinese picture scrolls of 16 portraits painted by Guanxiu, ca. 880
    during the Tang dynasty (618-907), today lost (lost not before 1764)
  2. Construction of a temple (Luohan Hall) for enshrinement of copies of the portraits engraved in 16 blocks of stone, 1764
    Today these blocks are part of a pedestal in the museum of the province Zhejiang in Hangdschou
  3. Stone rubbings made from the engraved portraits on paper,
    50cm x 120cm, probably by the Zhejiang museum, probably after 1950
  4. Photo reproduction (analog/ photochemical) of the stone rubbings in preparation for the letterpress print
  5. Print and publication in 16 small-format letterpress prints [2]
  6. Digital scans from the letterpress prints
  7. Conversion of some of the scans into web-ready images for this web page (incl. some large scale images).
guanxiu. luohan 1

1st Luohan, letterpress from stone engraving, after Guanxiu,
50cm by 120cm
>> large image (3.4 MB)

guanxiu. luohan 9

9th Luohan, letterpress from stone engraving, after Guanxiu,
50cm by 120cm
>> large image (2.7 MB)

guanxiu. luohan 13

13th Luohan, letterpress from stone engraving, after Guanxiu,
50cm by 120cm
>> large image (2.1 MB)

guanxiu. luohan 14

14th Luohan, letterpress from stone engraving, after Guanxiu,
50cm by 120cm
>> large image (2.3 MB)

Details from various of the 16 luohan prints

guanxiu. luohan 1

1st Luohan, detail

guanxiu. luohan 2

2nd Luohan, detail

guanxiu. luohan 9a

9th Luohan, detail

guanxiu. luohan 10

10th Luohan, detail

guanxiu. luohan 12a

12th Luohan, detail

guanxiu. luohan 12a

12th Luohan, detail

guanxiu. luohan 13b

13th Luohan, detail

guanxiu. luohan 14a

14th Luohan, detail

Short URL: 

[1]  Selected web links on Eighteen Luohans:

[2]  Publication from the mid-20th century, quite well-known in Europe
(sorry I don't share particulars).