The Bodhisattva Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future

Period: Thakuri period

Date: 11th century

Culture: Nepal (Kathmandu Valley)

Medium: Copper alloy with gilding and color

Dimensions: H. 26 in. (66 cm); W. 8 1/4 in. (20.9 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1982

Accession Number: 1982.220.12

Description

Maitreya, the messianic bodhisattva characterized as the Buddha of the Future, stands in a graciously exaggerated posture, the body beautifully counterbalanced. He holds his raised hand in the gesture of exposition (vitarka mudra) and in his lowered hand displays a flask (kamandalu) universally understood in South Asian culture as the container of amrta, the elixir of life. In a Buddhist setting, the flask is understood as the promise of Maitreya’s coming. The elegant aesthetics of this sculpture embody contemporary eastern Indian Pala styles, yet it displays a startling elegance combined with an almost austere economy of surface decoration: jewelry is restrained, textile patterns minimally suggested. The scale is exceptional, as is the aesthetic sensibility of the artist responsible for this work.

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