About this artwork
Seated depictions of the Buddha originated in Indian art, perhaps in portraits of Indian royalty. The Chinese reserved this imagery for Maitreya (Chinese: Mi-le), the Buddha of the Future, who waits in a cosmic heaven before descending to earth. This figure of Maitreya is about to step off his throne into this world, fulfilling the hopes and prayers of the faithful. His right hand is raised in a mudra (gesture) meaning “fear not.” Flames, emphasizing radiance and holy presence, border his outer halo, and his head is framed by an open lotus, whose blossoms also rise beneath his feet. Because it emerges pure white from muddy water, the lotus is a pervasive symbol of the Buddhist nature within all living things.
An inscription on the base of this image states that it was dedicated in 705 by the Buddhist disciple Yang Zongchun “for the sake of [his] deceased parents and seven generations of deceased ancestors, present family members, and all paternal and maternal relatives.” The inscription also mentions that the figure was part of a triad, originally flanked by two bodhisattvas representing emanations of Mi-le’s power and mercy, respectively.
- Maitreya Buddha (Mi-le, 彌勒佛 )
- China (Object made in)
- 705 CE
- 82.3 × 33.0 × 30.2 cm (32.4 × 12.9 × 11.9 in.)
- Gift of Alice Getty