In the coming age, Maitreya will become a buddha and spread the Buddhist teachings. Until then, he is a bodhisattva awaiting his birth in the human realm. Here, his readiness is apparent in his posture: feet on the ground, ready to rise to the occasion.

Buddhists worship Maitreya in hope of being reborn in his proximity when he becomes the next buddha. They sometimes expressed their faith in Maitreya on a large scale. This preparatory drawing for a massive copper sculpture conveys the monumental size of such images, which populated monasteries and mountainsides from Afghanistan to China.

Kuber Singh Shakya (ca. 1881–1957); Nepal, Patan, ca. 1950
Ink, jeweler’s rouge, red and black pencil on paper
Gift of Rudra Raj Shakya and family in memory of his father, Kuber Singh Shakya
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S1998.1