Tibetan Buddhist Maitreya Buddha The Friendly Bodhisattva (Made in Nepal)

Copper Sculpture

11.20 inch Height x 5.70 inch Width x 4.20 inch Depth

2.8 kg

According to some traditions, the period of the Buddhist Law is divided intothree stages: a first period of 500 years is of the turning of the Wheel ofthe Law; a second period of 1,000 years is of its deterioration, and thethird period of 3,000 years is the one during which no one practices theLaw. After this, Buddhism having disappeared, a new Buddha will appear whowill again turn the Wheel. This future Buddha is known asMaitreya. It is believed that Gautama himself enthroned him as hissuccessor.The word 'maitreya' is derived from the Sanskrit word for friendliness. Thusthis bodhisattva is fundamentally said to embody the qualities of amiabilityand an attitude of well-meaning sympathy.Maitreya may be considered either as a bodhisattva, according to the sutras,or as a Buddha, according to the tantras. In his iconographic representations,he is shown seated, but the legs, instead of being locked, are pendent. Heis the only divinity in the Northern Buddhist pantheon represented seated inthis European fashion. He has the signs of a Buddha such as long earlobes,the urna (the auspicious mark between the eyebrows, signifyingsuperhuman qualities), and the ushnisha (cranial bump on the head, symbolizingwisdom), and he wears the robes of a monk.Maitreya, also known as the future Buddha, who has still to come, is nowthought to be waiting in Tushita Heaven for the right time to come down toearth. Tushita heaven is one of the thirty-three heavens over Mount Meru andis considered the special field of Maitreya. Tibetans believe that ifsomeone chants the mantra "The Promise of Maitreya Buddha" in front of hisimage, that person will be reborn in Tushita Heaven after death.The two distinctive marks of Maitreya are the stupa in his crown and thescarf wound and tied around his waist.Shown with an extremely sweet and gentle countenance, he holds in his righthand, between the thumb and forefinger, the stem of a lotus flower. Thebloom of this blossom supports the Buddhist wheel of spiritual instruction. His left hand similarly bears a vase at the shoulder level, signifying immortality.The halo framing Maitreya's slim, perfectly proportioned body is deftly carved with the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism (Ashtamangala). The throne is tapering and edged; his feet resting on a lotus base. The folds of the dhoti clinging to his legs are rendered realistically, in fact, the whole composition, from the flowing vegetative forms down to the expressive fingers, is a tribute to the masterly skill of the anonymous Newari sculptor whose creation this is.
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