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Maitreya Buddha (Mi-le, 彌勒佛 )

A work made of limestone.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of limestone.


Tang dynasty (A.D. 618–906), dated 705



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.


On View, Gallery 101A


Arts of Asia


Maitreya Buddha (Mi-le, 彌勒佛 )


China (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

705 CE




82.3 × 33 × 30.2 cm (32 7/16 × 12 15/16 × 11 15/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Alice Getty

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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