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Carlton Rochell Asian Art

Maitreya
Gandhara
3rd century
Schist
Height: 33 in. (83.8 cm.)

The water-pot suspended from his lap identifies this finely-carved sculpture as the Bodhisattva Maitreya, [1] the Buddha of the Future, who awaits his eventual appearance on earth when he is reborn at Ketumati, present day Varanasi. Unlike the following sculpture, which depicts Buddha Maitreya (cat. no. 3), here he is still shown in his bodhisattva form, having yet to cut his hair and shave off his moustache, or to relinquish his princely garments, possession, and jewelry.

Seated with both of his hands in dhyana mudra, he wears a robe draped over his left shoulder and across his right arm, but which hangs open in the front to reveal a muscular torso beneath. Around his upper arms he wears foliate bands, one concealed beneath his garment but skillfully rendered by the sculptor to show through against the fabric. Two beaded meditation cords are suspended diagonally across his chest, from one of which hangs a series of small amulet boxes. He also wears two necklaces, one a thick, rope-like strand with a pair of makaras centering a spherical jewel, the other a flat collar incised with quatrefoil foliate motifs.

His long hair is incised wavy strands and drawn up into a domed chignon secured by a thin band at the base. Two spiral tresses fall onto his shoulders, and behind his head a circular nimbus is surmounted by a short finial. His face bears an expression of one deep in concentration, with heavy-lidded, downcast eyes, and pursed, bow-shaped mouth beneath his long moustache.

1. For a related example of a seated Maitreya in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, who holds a waterpot in a similar fashion, see Bussagli (1996), p. 259, no. 2.

all text, images Carlton Rochell Asian Art

 

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