Gilt-bronze Pensive Maitreya Bodhisattva

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Gilt-bronze Pensive Maitreya Bodhisattva

As one of the two largest gilt-bronze statues of Buddha in meditation made before the modern period - the other being the gilt-bronze statue designated as National Treasure No. 78 and stored in the National Museum of Korea in Seoul - this pensive Maitreya is 93.5 centimeters (37 inches) tall and was presumed to have been found in Gyeongju during the 1920s.

Wearing a crown of three peaks, it is also called the Tri-peak Pensive Buddha.

The Buddha has a plump, round face wearing a benign smile, and a slender upper body with two loose rings around its neck.

He is seated with his right leg crossed over his left on a tiny lotus mat, his left hand placed over the right ankle and the fingers of his right hand gently touching his right cheek.

The skirt covering the lower body is as light as a veil, revealing the shape and curves of the body. The fabric covering the lotus pedestal on which the deity is seated drapes heavily, creating many folds.

His outfit is completed by a fabric sash around the waist. There is a peg behind the head, showing that the deity once had a mandorla (Buddhist halo of light).

With a simple, balanced body and realistic rendering of the skirt and fabric pedestal cover, along with its elaborately carved facial features, the statue is widely regarded as a clear example of the advanced metal molding techniques of the times.

The dim, blissful smile on the face also contributes to its reputation as a masterpiece representative of the artistic achievement of Korean Buddhist sculptures.

Art historians believe that the statue was made later than the Gilt-bronze Pensive Maitreya Bodhisattva (National Treasure No. 78), probably during the late Three Kingdoms Period (57 B.C. - 668 A.D.).

Name: Gilt-bronze Pensive Maitreya Bodhisattva

Period: Three Kingdoms Period

Location: Yongsan-gu, Seoul

Status: National Treasure No. 83

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