Figure of Maitreya



Figure of Maitreya




15th Century


Tibet, China, Asia


Bronze, copper, silver
9 1/2 x 8 x 5 in. (24.1 x 20.3 x 12.7 cm)

Object Number



The name Maitreya translates as "love," or "loving one." In this context Maitreya is listed as one of the "Eight Close Disciples of Buddha," for universal love is one of the eight great attributes of the enlightenment way. Every Tibetan monastery houses at least one image of Maitreya, as an expression of the commitment to love, peace and non-violence.

Tibetans translated the name Maitreya as Jampa Gonpo, or "Lord Maitreya," and think of him as a great Buddhist archangel who long ago achieved enlightenment and watches over the world with tender care. According to Buddhist prophecy, there will be 1,000 universal teachers in this world cycle. Buddha Shakyamuni, who lived 2,500 years ago, was the fourth of these. Maitreya will manifest as the fifth when the time is right. Buddhists eagerly await this "Coming of Maitreya" much as Christians await the second coming of Christ. To symbolize this fulfillment of Buddha Shakyamuni's work, Maitreya is often depicted with a stupa above his head, as here in this image.

This particular representation of Maitreya shows him in the form of Maitreya the Healer. His legs are crossed in meditation, the best medicine for the mind; and his hands are in the teaching gesture, the best medicine for the world. The lotus above his left shoulder holds a vase filled with medicinal nectars having three powers: healing disease, increasing life-force, and transforming negative states of mind and its emotions into wisdom and happiness.

This is stated in the Tibetan inscription on the base, "Buddha's Regent Lord Maitreya, in the mode of Master Healer ..." The inscription concludes with a verse of dedication for the quick attainment of the enlightenment of the person who commissioned the status, a lady by the name of Pelmo Kyi, as well as the enlightenment of all living beings.

Credit Line

The Ester R. Portnow Collection of Asian Art, a gift of the Nathan Rubin-Ida Ladd Family Foundation


MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, September 2004 - Present


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2007.
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On View



“Figure of Maitreya,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed February 19, 2019,

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