Object type

Figure of a Luohan



Place Associated

China, Shanxi province (place of manufacture)


Ming Dynasty, 1484




overall (weight includes plinth and crate): 1267 mm x 635 mm x 450 mm 786 kg


This life-size ceramic sculpture shows a ‘Meditating Luohan’ sitting cross-legged on a high carved piece of rockwork. It expresses the Buddhist practice of deep meditation and quiet cultivation of the mind.

From the tenth century onward, the figure of a Luohan became popular across China, initially made in stone, wood, and bronze, and later in ceramic. This splendid example at the Burrell Collection was created by an artisan Liu Zhen, and illustrates his ability of transforming clay into elaborate figures. The colours of the glaze are yellow, green, brown, and black. Decoration of the figure with coloured glaze is known in China as Shanxi liuli. Techniques, in ceramic carving ideas, reached a high level in the Ming dynasty.

This figure was commonly displayed in North China for worship and this example was given by a family, a Buddhist Wang Jinao, his wife Miaojin, and son Wang Qin. The priest Dao Ji conducted the offering ceremony on an auspicious day of the second month of the Chinese autumn in 1484, the 20th year of Emperor Chenghua’s reign. The date is clearly inscribed on the left-hand side of the figure.

According to the Purchase Book 52.12, page 78, this figure was bought through John Sparks Ltd, 128 Mount Street, London, on 17 April 1944, for £350. It arrived safely in Glasgow on 1 May, 1944 (GMA.2013.

Credit Line/Donor

Gifted by Sir William and Lady Burrell to the City of Glasgow, 1944


Burrell Collection: Chinese Pottery [Stoneware, Porcelain]

ID Number



Burrell Collection North Galleries

Related Objects

Related Natural History

Related People

Related Media