Nāgasena (disciple of the Buddha)

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Nagasena Arhat by Guanxiu

Nāgasena is one of the sixteen arhats of Sanskrit tradition. He is recognized in the living traditions of East Asian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.

He is typically shown holding a khakkhara in his right hand and a vase in his left; an example can be seen in an image in the Cleveland Museum of Art collection. "This figure [conforms with the image of] the arhat Nagasena, shown in Jivarama's sketchbook of 1435"[1] who also holds a vase.

A similar depiction can be seen in the collection of Singapore's Asian Civilisations Museum (Qianlong era, 18C: tangka with silk appliqué.)[2]

More modern statues often show a bald, elderly monk scratching his ear with a stick to symbolize purification of the sense of hearing.


  1. Stephen Little, "The Arhats in China and Tibet." Artibus Asiae, Vol. 52, No. 3/4 (1992), p. 257
  2. Marilyn Seow, Managing Editor. The Asian Civilisations Museum A-Z Guide. Singapore: Asian Civilisations Museum, 2003, pp.326-7.