Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Bodhisattva Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future

Thakuri period
11th century
Nepal (Kathmandu Valley)
Copper alloy with gilding and color
H. 26 in. (66 cm); W. 8 1/4 in. (20.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1982
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 252
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.
[ Doris Wiener Gallery , New York, by 1969, sold to Heeramaneck] ; [ Alice N. Heeramaneck , New York, by 1972 until 1973, sold to Humann] ; Christian Humann ; [ R. H. Ellsworth Ltd. , New York, 1982, sold to MMA]
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