Karil J. Kucera. Book Review: Monks in Glaze: Patronage, Kiln Origin and Iconography of the Yixian Luohans by Eileen Hsiang-Ling Hsu
Among the many works of Chinese sculpture in museums today, the Yixian luohan (‘arhats’) are remarkable: they are slightly larger than life-size hand-modelled ceramic images of Buddhist holy men seated on rock-like platforms and covered in a sancai, or three-colour, glaze. Anyone who has wandered into the Chinese galleries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York or The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, not to mention the Musée Guimet in Paris, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto or the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, has undoubtedly passed by one of this group of ten extant sculptures, if not been drawn to it—their portrait-like visages compel the visitor to come closer. Yet while many have seen these works, few have studied them. Eileen Hsiang-Ling Hsu’s work Monks in Glaze: Patronage, Kiln Origin and Iconography of the Yixian Luohans now fills this gap.