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Seated Maitreya

Asian Art

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.
MEDIUM Gilt copper alloy
  • Place Made: Tibet
  • DATES 13th-14th century
    DIMENSIONS 10 1/4 x 7 1/2 x 3 in. (26 x 19.1 x 7.6 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 67.80
    CREDIT LINE Charles Stewart Smith Memorial Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION 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
    IMAGE overall, 67.80_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION 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.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (82%)
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