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Maitreya, Buddha of the future

14th century


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Other Titles
    Figure of Manjusri
    Figure of Maitreya
    Seated Maitreya
    Seated bodhisattva
    Place where the work was made
    Yuan dynasty 1279 - 1368 → China
    14th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    gilt bronze
    69.0 x 40.0 x 31.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased 1996
    South Building, ground level, Asian Lantern galleries
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    In the Buddhist art of China and North Asia, Maitreya is represented as both a Buddha and a Bodhisattva. The Historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, is said to have visited Maitreya in the Tushita heaven when he appointed him to be his successor. For this reason Maitreya is also known as the 'Future Buddha'. In later times and in yet another form, Maitreya became one of the most popular of Buddhist images as Budai, the manifestation of the Future Buddha: always represented as a fat jolly fellow commonly referred to as the 'laughing Buddha'. Here Maitreya is represented as a Bodhisattva, identified by the hands held in the dharmachakra (teaching or turning the wheel of the law) 'mudra', with the legs pendant: the only deity in the vast pantheon of Buddhist gods to be shown seated in the European manner. Also visible are the now broken stems of the lotus flower traditionally held by Maitreya. The ornate 'dhoti' tied at the waist and elaborate necklaces, headdress and jewellery are all characteristic of Bodhisattva images of this time, when the influence of the Tibetan style was being felt.

    Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg.251.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 6 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 10 publications