This wonderfully preserved image of Maitreya is shown making the Buddhist teaching gesture, in which one hand creates a ring while the other hand touches it, mimicking the turning of a wheel. This gesture refers to the Buddhist metaphor for the Buddha's teachings, in which he is said to have set in motion the Wheel of the Law. The image is identified as Maitreya (Buddha of the Future) by the stupa (relic container) in his headdress and by the lotus at his shoulder.
Attribution of this image to a specific region has proven challenging. It combines stylistic features associated with western Tibetan, Nepalese, and Chinese Buddhist bronzes. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the elite of all three regions practiced Tibetan-style Buddhism, and all employed Nepalese bronze casters to create top-quality icons. Although local tastes differed, the shared artistic heritage of the craftsmen sometimes lent a remarkable similarity to the bronzes of distant regions.
Gilt copper alloy
10 1/4 x 7 1/2 x 3 in. (26 x 19.1 x 7.6 cm) (show scale)
This item is not on view
Charles Stewart Smith Memorial Fund
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Seated Maitreya, 13th-14th century. Gilt copper alloy, 10 1/4 x 7 1/2 x 3 in. (26 x 19.1 x 7.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Stewart Smith Memorial Fund, 67.80. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 67.80_SL1.jpg)
overall, 67.80_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Image of the Bodhisattva Maitreya (Tibetan: bYams-pa) seated in the lotus position (padmasana), his hands held in a teaching gesture. The figure is dressed in a monastic garment, which is drawn over both shoulders, its stylized folded drapery traceable to Indian prototypes. An open lotus blossom with petal turned downward rises from behind the figure's left arm. It is surmounted by a stupa, and there is a stupa in the figure's headdress; the stupas identify the subject as Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future.
Tenons on bottom of figure would have attached it to a base, probably a lotus-shaped pedestal, which is no longer present.
Condition: Generally good except for wearing of the gilding on parts of the figure and spots of bronze disease on legs, arms, hands, and face which were treated immediately.
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