The slightly elongated proportions and exaggerated treatment of the edges and hems of the robe date this seated Buddha to the 11th or 12th century. The combination of monastic robes, pendant legs, and the gesture of preaching (dharmachakramudra) indicates that this sculpture represents Maitreya in his role of earthly Buddha of the next age. Maitreya's position in the Buddhist pantheon is unique because he is worshipped both as a bodhisattva in this age and as the Buddha of the next. As a bodhisattva, he presides over the Tushita Pure Land; as a Buddha he rules over the Ketumati Pure Land, an earthly paradise sometimes associated with the Indian city of Banaras in Uttar Pradesh.
The cult of Maitreya is somewhat messianic, for it is believed that his rebirth as the Buddha will herald a utopian age in which the circumstances of a devotee's daily life will be more conducive to achieving enlightenment. As a result, devotees sometimes pray for rebirth in the Tushita Pure Land to await rebirth in Ketumati.