Art/ Collection/ Art Object

北魏太和十年 青銅鎏金彌勒佛像
Buddha Maitreya (Mile fo)

Northern Wei dynasty (386–534)
dated 486
Gilt bronze with traces of pigment; piece-mold cast
H. 55 1/4 in. (140.3 cm); W. 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm); D. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
Credit Line:
John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1926
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 208
This is the largest early gilt-bronze Chinese sculpture known today. The Buddha’s broad shoulders, powerful physique, and long legs derive from fifthcentury Indian prototypes that spread to China along the Silk Road, an example of which can be seen directly behind you in the gallery for Indian art.

Maitreya is worshiped both as a bodhisattva and as a Buddha, for it is believed that once the currentcosmic era has destroyed itself, he will be reborn as the teaching Buddha of the next great era. The identification of this figure as the Buddha Maitreya is based on the dedicatory inscription at the back of the base, which dates the sculpture to 486 and states that it was commissioned in honor of the dowager empress Wenming (442–490), who controlled the Northern Wei dynasty during the last three decades of the fifth century.
#7453. Buddha Maitreya (Mile fo), Part 1
#7453. Buddha Maitreya (Mile fo), Part 2
#7454. Buddha Maitreya (Mile fo), Part 3
For Audio Guide tours and information, visit
Inscription: Inscribed and dated (in back, on upper band).

Tai he shi nian / zheng yue nian si ri / wei tai huang / tai hou (space) / xia wei (shi?) / di zhong sheng / zao mi li / xiang yi qu (This can be loosely translated as in the 10th year of the Taihe era (486), the first month the 24th day in honor of the Dowager Empress, for the benefit of the ten classes of beings, one image of Mile (Maitreya) was made.

太后 (space)
下為 (shi?)
(by Denise Patry Leidy)

Shanxi Province

[ Umeikichi Asano , Osaka, until 1926; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 14, 1970–June 1, 1971.

Tokyo National Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 9, 1972–October 1, 1972.

Kyoto Municipal Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 8, 1972–November 26, 1972.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Light of Asia: Buddha Sakyamuni in Asian Art," March 4, 1984–May 20, 1984.

Tokyo National Museum. "Special Exhibition: Gilt Bronze Buddhist Statues - China, Korea, Japan," March 10, 1987–April 19, 1987.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Weber Galleries Reinstallation," October 14, 1998–March 19, 2010.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200–750 AD," October 12, 2004–January 23, 2005.

Seoul. National Museum of Korea. "Masterpieces of Early Buddhist Sculpture," September 24, 2015–November 15, 2015.

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