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Altarpiece Dedicated to Buddha Maitreya

Period:
Northern Wei dynasty (386–534)
Date:
dated 524
Culture:
China
Medium:
Gilt bronze
Dimensions:
H. 30 1/4 (76.8 cm); W. 16 in. (40.6 cm); D. 9 3/4 in. (24.8 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1938
Accession Number:
38.158.1a–n
  • Description

    This altarpiece is a rare, freestanding example illustrating a style—characterized by attenuated physiques and thick, concealing drapery—that developed at the Northern Wei court in the early sixth century. Maitreya (Mile fo), who played an important role in early Chinese practices, is understood as the Buddha who will become the teaching Buddha of the next cosmic era, when Buddhism, which will have been destroyed, is reinstated. He is identified on this altarpiece by an inscription stating that a certain individual commissioned the sculpture on behalf of his deceased son and expressing the hope that the son and other relatives will eventually be reunited in the presence of a Buddha.

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
42162

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