An image of Maitreya, Buddha of the future

Unknown Artist

Maitreya, Buddha of the future

Other titles:
Figure of Manjusri, Figure of Maitreya, Seated Maitreya, Seated bodhisattva
Not on display
Further information

In the Buddhist art of China and North Asia, Maitreya is represented as both a Buddha and a Bodhisattva. The Historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, is said to have visited Maitreya in the Tushita heaven when he appointed him to be his successor. For this reason Maitreya is also known as the 'Future Buddha'. In later times and in yet another form, Maitreya became one of the most popular of Buddhist images as Budai, the manifestation of the Future Buddha: always represented as a fat jolly fellow commonly referred to as the 'laughing Buddha'. Here Maitreya is represented as a Bodhisattva, identified by the hands held in the dharmachakra (teaching or turning the wheel of the law) 'mudra', with the legs pendant: the only deity in the vast pantheon of Buddhist gods to be shown seated in the European manner. Also visible are the now broken stems of the lotus flower traditionally held by Maitreya. The ornate 'dhoti' tied at the waist and elaborate necklaces, headdress and jewellery are all characteristic of Bodhisattva images of this time, when the influence of the Tibetan style was being felt.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg.251.

Place of origin
China: Yuan dynasty 1279–1368
14th century
gilt bronze
69.0 x 40.0 x 31.0 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Purchased 1996
Accession number