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Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future
Place of Origin: Mongolia
Date: 1700-1800
Materials: Gilded bronze, cold gold, and semiprecious stones
Dimensions: H. 34 in x W. 13 in x D. 7 in, H. 86.4 cm x W. 33.0 cm x D. 17.8 cm
Credit Line: Gift of the Connoisseurs' Council and museum purchase
Department: Himalayan Art
Collection: Sculpture
Object Number: 2004.19
On Display: No

Description

Label: Maitreya, whose name translates as "the Friendly One," is the Buddha of the future. In Buddhist thought, Maitreya will be born on Earth during a period when Buddhism has largely been forgotten; his presence will inaugurate a new era for the Buddhist path (dharma). Accordingly, Maitreya holds in his raised right hand a wheel that symbolizes the Buddhist Eightfold Path. On top of a lotus held in his left hand appears his characteristic emblem, the water pot that symbolizes purification and renewal. Just as Maitreya renews Buddhist history, he also appears at the New Year festival in Mongolia, where this sculpture was created. Maitreya's standing posture reveals that he presently resides in the heaven called Tushita, "the Joyous Place," in preparation for his future descent to Earth.

More Information

Exhibition History: "Sights Unseen: Recent Acquisitions", Tateuchi Gallery, September 2, 2006 - March 25, 2007

"Hidden Gold: Mining its Meaning in Asian Art", Asian Art Museum, March 4, 2016-May 8, 2016
Additional Label:

Maitreya, the “Friendly One,” is the Buddha of the future. He is generally recognizable by two features. The first is the eight-spoked Wheel of the Buddha’s Path— a summary of basic teachings—that appears on the lotus over his right shoulder. The second is a water pot (kalasha), symbolizing purification and renewal of the tradition, that appears on the lotus on his left.

This sculpture of Maitreya has itself been renewed. Maitreya’s face bears a coating of cold gold, a substance used to ritually activate and renew bronze sculptures in the Himalayas. To make cold gold, gold is powdered and mixed with a fixative, usually some sort of glue. It is then painted on devotional figures. Its use here reasserts the capacity for renewal that Maitreya represents.

Finally, note that in the case of this Maitreya sculpture, renewal is construed in both mythical and ritual terms. For just as Maitreya renews the Buddhist tradition on a large, mythical scale, he also appears at the annual New Year ritual in Mongolia, in the form of a sculpture like this one.

(Label from Exhibition Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art)


Label: Maitreya, whose name translates as "the Friendly One," is the Buddha of the future. In Buddhist thought, Maitreya will be born on Earth during a period when Buddhism has largely been forgotten; his presence will inaugurate a new era for the Buddhist path (dharma). Accordingly, Maitreya holds in his raised right hand a wheel that symbolizes the Buddhist Eightfold Path. On top of a lotus held in his left hand appears his characteristic emblem, the water pot that symbolizes purification and renewal. Just as Maitreya renews Buddhist history, he also appears at the New Year festival in Mongolia, where this sculpture was created. Maitreya's standing posture reveals that he presently resides in the heaven called Tushita, "the Joyous Place," in preparation for his future descent to Earth.
Exhibition History: "Sights Unseen: Recent Acquisitions", Tateuchi Gallery, September 2, 2006 - March 25, 2007

"Hidden Gold: Mining its Meaning in Asian Art", Asian Art Museum, March 4, 2016-May 8, 2016
Expanded Label:

Maitreya, the “Friendly One,” is the Buddha of the future. He is generally recognizable by two features. The first is the eight-spoked Wheel of the Buddha’s Path— a summary of basic teachings—that appears on the lotus over his right shoulder. The second is a water pot (kalasha), symbolizing purification and renewal of the tradition, that appears on the lotus on his left.

This sculpture of Maitreya has itself been renewed. Maitreya’s face bears a coating of cold gold, a substance used to ritually activate and renew bronze sculptures in the Himalayas. To make cold gold, gold is powdered and mixed with a fixative, usually some sort of glue. It is then painted on devotional figures. Its use here reasserts the capacity for renewal that Maitreya represents.

Finally, note that in the case of this Maitreya sculpture, renewal is construed in both mythical and ritual terms. For just as Maitreya renews the Buddhist tradition on a large, mythical scale, he also appears at the annual New Year ritual in Mongolia, in the form of a sculpture like this one.

(Label from Exhibition Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art)