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Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal

The Bodhisattva Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future
Nepal, Thakuri period, 11th century
Copper alloy with gilding and color
H. 26 in. (66 cm); W. 8 1/4 in. (20.9 cm)

Rogers Fund, 1982
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982.220.12

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┬ámudra) 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 , New York , New York (1973 until d. in 1981, estate sale by Ellsworth to MMA); [ R. H. Ellsworth Ltd. , New York, 1982, sold to MMA]

Exhibition History
Grand Palais, Paris. "Visions du futur: une histoire des peurs et des espoirs de l'humanité," October 3, 2000–January 1, 2001.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of the Himalayas," December 15, 2010–December 4, 2011.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal," December 16, 2017–December 16, 2018.