Since 1914 a Chinese ceramic Lohan, a realised Buddhist monk, has been in the British Museum. This figure is one of eight similar figures considered to be part of a group which was found in caves at a mountain site near Yixian some eighty miles south-west of Beijing in 1912. This statue has the reputation, in certain circles, of being an example of 'Objective Art'.
At the time of the installation of the Lohan in the British Museum, R. L Hobson (‘A New Chinese Masterpiece in the British Museum’, The Burlington Magazine (May, 1914), 68-73) wrote of its ‘noble head and powerful face; the thoughtful contraction of the brows; the nostrils dilated as if in deep breathing; the lips set in a faint smile which seem to combine contempt for worldly affairs with pity for struggling mankind; the eyes which, try as one will to meet them, always look past us and beyond. It is a face which embodies the Buddhist ideal of abstraction and contemplation, the personification of mental force in repose’.