About the Artwork

Maitreya, meaning the 'Loving One', is the bodhisattva who is destined to become the future Buddha of the next 'auspicious era' or bhadrakalpa. As a bodhisattva Maitreya presently abides in the celestial heaven or pure land of Tushita or Ganden (Tib. dGa'-ldan), meaning the 'Joyous', which is the heaven in which Shakyamuni Buddha resided prior to his descent to Earth. And just as Shakyamuni attained enlightenment under the bodhi tree, so Maitreya will attain enlightenment under his own specific tree, which is the nagakesara or 'snake's-hair' champaka tree. A flowering branch of this champaka tree (Michelia champaka), with its fragrant white flowers, is Maitreya's most characteristic attribute or emblem.

As the forthcoming Buddha of the next aeon, Maitreya is commonly represented seated upon a raised throne in Western fashion, with his legs and feet hanging down, and in this colorful composition he is shown seated in this posture. Maitreya is golden-yellow in complexion and is adorned with the thirty-two major marks and eighty minor signs of a fully enlightened Buddha. He sits serenely upon the seed-head of a pink lotus that rests upon an ornate silver throne. On the main façade of the throne are the symmetric images of a makara or 'crocodile' and a coiling dragon, with Maitreya's bare feet resting upon the seed-head of a pink lotus-pedestal that arises above the lotus lake below.

Maitreya has two compassionate bow-shaped eyes, long earlobes, and a small jewel-shaped golden urna between his eyebrows. The curls of his dark blue hair and head-protuberance (Skt. ushnisha) coil clockwise towards the right, with the small pink lotus at his crown supporting his characteristic emblem of a small white mahabodhi-stupa with a golden pinnacle. With his two hands held before his heart in the teaching or 'wheel-turning' dharmachakra-mudra he holds the stems of two blue utpala lotus flowers between each of his thumbs and forefingers.

Kneeling upon moon discs and pink lotuses to the lower right and left of Maitreya are the goddesses White Tara and Green Tara, who each gaze upwards in adoration to Maitreya whilst offering lotus blossoms with their raised hands. Both Tara's are similar in appearance, with divine silk garments, golden ornaments, flower garlands and five-jeweled crowns. White Saptalocana or 'seven-eyed' Tara has three eyes on her face and four eyes on her palms and soles, whereas Green Tara has only two eyes.

© text by Robert Beer

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About Our Prints


PEM Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections of the Peabody Essex Museum. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.


Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery. A variety of molding styles means our custom framed prints can match any type of decor.

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