Hanging scroll, ink, color, gold, and cut gold on silk
Mounted: 197 x 58.7 cm (77 9/16 x 23 1/8 in.); Painting only: 110.6 x 40.7 cm (43 9/16 x 16 in.)
Gift of Rosemarie and Leighton Longhi in memory of Robert P. Bergman 1999.195
In this image the figure of Miroku, Maitreya in Sanskrit, is richly adorned with gauzy fabrics, opulent jewels, and an intricate gold crown containing five seated Buddhas. Buddhist teachings say that Miroku will descend to Earth as a Buddha to restore Buddhist doctrine at the end of a long period of decline. Here he is represented as a bodhisattva, a being who has attained enlightenment but has chosen to postpone becoming a Buddha to help others reach enlightenment. Above the painting, three inscriptions present portions of a sacred text related to Miroku. A close look at the bodhisattva’s right side where fragile pigments have fallen away reveals writing on the back of the silk on which the image is painted— something its mounters never expected to be seen.
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