Bodhidharma crossing the Yangzi River on a reed
Qing dynasty, 1644-1911
Of the twenty mounted heart-shaped, pointed leaves from the bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa) in this album, only four have paintings; the other sixteen are undecorated and inlaid in blue paper. The four that are illustrated depict a luohan riding an ox, Bodhidharma crossing the Yangzi River on a reed, a luohan and a deer, and a luohan taming a tiger.
Special religious significance is given to this form of leaf painting because the Historical Buddha Shakyamuni (circa 563-483 B.C.E.), also known as Siddhartha Gautama, obtained enlightenment under the bodhi tree at Bodhgaya in India. Many temples throughout China planted Ficus religiosa, a tree known for its great size and longevity, and a tradition of leaf art emerged for copying sutras or painting Buddhist images.
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco Tibetan Bodhi leaf painting treasures: Eighteen Figure (full version) exquisite Buddhist paintings Appreciation
from Album of Eighteen Arhat Paintings
Date: 17th–18th century
Medium: Color on Bo tree leaves and mounted on blue paper