Nāgasena (disciple of the Buddha)

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Nagasena Arhat by Guanxiu

Nāgasena was a disciple of Gautama Buddha who is counted among the sixteen arhats in 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.