India, an exceptional Maitreya

7th century, Northeast India, Nalanda, Maitreya, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie's.

7th century, Northeast India, Nalanda, Maitreya, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This rare and beautiful work depicts Maitreya in his bodhisattva appearance, standing with his right hand in the gesture of supreme generosity, the other holding the stem of a (broken) lotus.

7th-c-india-ne-nalanda-maitreya-c-a-193-cm-stupa-upavita-detail

He wears an incised ankle-length dhoti held in place with a chain belt decorated with a floral pendant and a buckle with a motif that matches the symbol embossed on the palm of his right hand. There is a tightly fitted sash across his chest and a sacred thread. He wears a necklace, bangles, and floral armbands (placed higher up than normal).

7th-c-india-ne-nalanda-maitreya-c-a-193-cm-stupa-close-up

His hair is tied up, except for some long tresses that fall over his shoulders, and adorned with a foliate crown with a stupa (his main attribute) on the front panel. He has a tear-shaped urna and a prominent lower lip. The treatment of the eyes is specific to Indian artists.

 

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