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Paintings > Thangka > Maitreya - The Future Buddha
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Maitreya - The Future Buddha

Maitreya - The Future Buddha

Maitreya - The Future Buddha

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Tibetan Thangka Painting

15.0" x 19.5"
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Viewed 11446 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
Maitreya, the "kindly one," may be considered either as a bodhisattva, according to the sutras, or as a Buddha, according to the tantras. When he is represented as a Buddha he is shown seated, but the legs, instead of being locked, are pendent. He is the only divinity in the Northern Buddhist pantheon represented seated in European fashion. He has the signs of a Buddha such as long earlobes, the urna (the auspicious tuft of hair between the eyebrows, signifying superhuman quality), and the ushnisha (cranial bump on the head, symbolizing wisdom), and he wears the robes of a monk.

Maitreya, also known as the future Buddha, who has still to come, is now thought to be waiting in Tushita Heaven for the right time to come down to earth. Tushita heaven is one of the thirty-three heavens over Mount Meru and is considered the special field of Maitreya. Tibetans believe that if someone makes statues and thangkas of Maitreya Buddha and chants the mantra "The Promise of Maitreya Buddha," that person will be reborn in Tushita Heaven after death.

Shown with an extremely sweet and gentle countenance, he holds in his left hand, between the thumb and forefinger, the stem of a lotus flower. The bloom of this lotus supports a wheel. This is the Buddhist wheel of spiritual instruction. His right hand is held in the varada mudra (Tib. Mchog sbyin gyi phyag rgya) of generosity or boon granting, with the palm facing downwards and the fingers extended.

Surmounting his image is a parasol (Tib. Gdugs), the traditional symbol of both protection and royalty.


This description by Nitin Kumar, Executive Editor, Exotic India.


Beer, Robert. The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1999.

Getty, Alice. The Gods of Northern Buddhism. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1978.

Lipton, Barbara, and Ragnubs, Nima Dorjee. Treasures of Tibetan Art: Collection of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Pal, Pratapaditya. Art of Tibet. Los Angeles: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990.

Rhie, Marylin M. & Thurman, Robert A.F. Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996.

Of Related Interest:

Mudras of the Great Buddha: Symbolic Gestures and Postures (Article)

Buddha in the Varada Mudra (Sterling Silver Box Pendant)

Gautam Buddha (Handcrafted Sterling Silver Finger-Ring)

Buddha Seated on The Six-Ornament Throne of Enlightenment (Tibetan Thangka Painting)

The Temptation Of Buddha (Batik Painting)

Buddha (Silk Painting)

Transcendent Buddha (Kalamkari Painting)

Buddha Shakyamuni (Copper Sculpture gilted with 24 Karat Gold)

Buddha, the Universal Teacher (Brass Statue)

Emaciated Buddha (Grey Stone Sculpture)

Meditating Buddha (Wood Sculpture)

Four Headed Buddha Bust (Green Stone)

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