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Bodhisattva Maitreya




Kushan period (50-320 C.E.)


Bodhisattva Maitreya


3rd c. C.E.


Grey schist


186.5 x 42 x 30.2 cm


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1976.Eb.1


Archeology and World Cultures

This standing figure of the Bodhisattva Maitreya, or future Buddha, was carved in Gandhara, an area now comprising parts of today’s Pakistan and Afghanistan. Located on the Silk Road, Gandhara benefited from tremendous economic and cultural exchanges with the Mediterranean world, Central Asia and India. Its control of the routes vital to international commerce made the region wealthy, and its cosmopolitan elites became great patrons of Buddhism. The multi-ethnic character of the area is captured in this figure of Maitreya. Greco-Roman influences can be seen in the natural rendering of the body and drapery. The ornate coiffure, moustache, beaded necklaces, armlets and talismans are all princely symbols carried over from the Indic tradition. The left hand holds a sacred water flask while the right hand (lost) was probably raised palm outwards in the gesture of reassurance (abhaya mudra).

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