Stele with Shakyamuni and Maitreya

c. 570s
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Did You Know?

Shakyamuni, or the historical Buddha, was a prince who gave up his earthly possessions for spiritual transcendence.


In this stele, Shakyamuni (the historical Buddha) bears a benign smile in the hand gestures of fearlessness and gift giving. He is flanked by two bodhisattvas and two disciples-all standing against a mandorla (almond-shaped halo) adorned with a stupa and flying heavenly beings. On the reverse side, the Buddha sits in a pensive pose with his head tilted, mediating under twin sala trees. This position is reserved for Shakyamuni’s first meditation or Maitreya’s meditation. The joint appearance of Shakyamuni and Maitreya (the future Buddha) on two sides of a stele was a favorite scheme of the Northern Qi period.
Stele with Shakyamuni and Maitreya

Stele with Shakyamuni and Maitreya

c. 570s

China, Northern Qi dynasty (550-577)

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