Maitreya’s Paradise

Maitreya Paradise, China, Gansu province, Dunhuang, 945 CE.© President and Fellows of Harvard CollegeAccording to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya (Chinese, Mi-le) is the Buddha of the Future, destined to succeed Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha) as the Enlightened One in the next age. Until then, Maitreya resides in the Tusita Heaven as a bodhisattva, waiting to descend to Jambudvipa (the earth) to be born into the ideal kingdom of the Cakravartin. In this utopian land, where there is no crime and no illness and where human beings live to a ripe old age, Maitreya will attain enlightenment.

From Tun-huang, this simplified version of Maitreya’s paradise depicts only the Future Buddha—identified by his “European” pose, in which he sits with legs pendant—accompanied by disciples and bodhisattvas.

This painting shows Maitreya preaching from a terracelike structure above a lotus pond, the scene symbolizing one of the three assemblies in which he will preach. The lotus pond is often associate with paradise imagery in Buddhist iconography.


Dates in 945, the dedicatory inscription below the terrace states that the painting was commissioned by the Li family (prominent in the Tun-huang region) as a meritorious deed, and it offers a prayer for the security of the nation, the prosperity of the citizenry, the well-being of the Li family and its descendants, and the rebirth of deceased ancestors into paradise. Images of six male and five female donors from the Li family appear in the lowest register.

Maitreya Paradise, China, Gansu province, Dunhuang, 945 CE.

Images © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

According to legend, Maitreya (Maitreya sometimes ‘good intentions’) will appear when the future ends. #Deep #Koan #Buddhism

Categories: Art, Buddhism, Encyclopedia

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2 replies

  1. Lovely thank you

  2. Thanks for this teaching! 🙏


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