Detail View: The AMICA Library: Buddha of the Future (Maitreya)

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Dates/Places: 
Creator Name-CRT: 
Japan, Asuka Period
Buddha of the Future (Maitreya)
Title Type: 
Full View
Creation Date: 
late 7th Century
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
cast bronze, incised, with traces of gilding
Overall: 39.4cm
AMICA Contributor: 
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: 
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
John L. Severance Fund
Among the most popular devotional images of early Buddhist Japan are those portraying a seated figure, right leg crossed on top of the knee of the suspended left leg and right hand elevated to touch the chin. The left hand rests quietly on top of the ankle of the crossed right leg, adding balance to the whole statue. Represented is the Future Buddha, Maitreya (Miroku in Japanese), the deity thought by devout believers to appear at the end of the world to offer salvation. This idea predicting the fiery death of the planet was in fact preached widely in early Japan, and an actual date in the mid-eleventh century was identified with the event. One response to this ominous forecast was the production of Miroku statues, both as large central icons and as small devotional images. Many of the latter were buried along with sacred religious texts and other ritual objects in anticipation of future generations' use of them with Miroku's arrival. The cult of worship to Miroku was vigorous among the Buddhist clergy and the close-knit aristocratic families who were the new religion's staunchest supporters. Buddhism in Japan was still in its infancy, although under the reign of Empress Suiko (593 ? 628) and her regent, Prince Shotoku (574 ? 622), its practice flourished. Prince Shotoku supported the new religion as he strove to consolidate the power of an imperial lineage within his family lineage, in the face of challenges from competing clans. By maintaining active relations with China, and especially with Korea, Empress Suiko and Prince Shotoku were able to develop, and then initiate, sweeping changes in government organization and society. Shotoku is reverentially acknowledged in Japanese history as the principal protector and promoter of Buddhism, elevating it tothe status of a state religion and personally directing the founding of the country's oldest Buddhist temples south of present-day Nara. The building of these structures and the adornment of their interiors required the skills of immigrant Koreans adept at woodworking, tile making, and metalwork? particularly bronze casting. Bronze images of the Buddha of the Future in meditation are numerous in sixth- and seventh-century Korean art when the deity's following was especially strong. Serving as models for the gilt-bronze icons subsequently made in Japan, oftentimes by Korean artisans, these sculptures gradually took on more decidedly Japanese features. That is the case with this large seated figure. In comparison to Korean prototypes, its torso is more stocky, the face and facial features broader, and the details of robing and jewelry less pronounced. M.R.C.
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