Swat Valley, Maitreya on lion throne

9th century circa, Swat Valley, Maitreya, bronze, at the British Museum  (London).

9th century circa, Swat Valley, Maitreya, bronze, at the British Museum (London).

Maitreya, bodhisattva and buddha of the future, holds a pot of water in his left hand. He sits on a cushion with tassels in each corner, over a throne supported by two lions, resting on a double-lotus base with pointed artichoke-like petals typical of the area. The tassel hanging at the front of the throne forms a rectangular shape (rather than  semi-circular or trapezoidal). At the base of the pedestal is a rocky formation often seen on sculptures from the Gilgit and Swat Valley area. He wears a tall three-leaf crown decorated with bows and ribbons, earrings, armbands and bracelets with a lotus design,  a plain necklace and a thin celestial scarf that rests on the inner part of his arms. Apart from his beautiful face – with semi-closed silver-inlaid eyes – and harmonious body proportions, we will notice the geometrical aspect of the overall composition that recalls a stupa.

8th-9th century, Swat Valley, Maitreya, bronze, published by John Siudmak.

8th-9th century, Swat Valley, Maitreya, brass, published by John Siudmak.

This Maitreya wears a mitre-like crown, a necklace with a lotus design that matches his earrings and armbands, and plain bracelets. He has an exaggeratedly small torso with noticeably large nipples, very long arms,  and a large head in comparison with the body. His eyes are wide open and inlaid with silver. On both works, the eyebrows are very thin and join into a V-shape with a large raised urna at the centre.

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