Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Maitreya, Iconographic Forms & Types Page

Maitreya (Iconographic Forms & Types) | Maitreya Main Page

Three Key Subjects:
- Appearance
- Posture
- Attributes

Iconography: Three Main Topics:
- Peaceful Appearance: non-iconic, narrative based, a student of the Buddha from Mahayana literature
- Buddha Appearance: Buddha of the Future, narrative based
- Meditational Deity: iconic, based on the Tantra (Vajrayana) literature

Forms & Types:
- Bodhisattva Appearance (standing)
- Bodhisattva Appearance (seated)
- (Seated Posture - Western style)
- (Relaxed Posture)
- Tushita Heaven
- Maitreya & Manjushri in Dialogue
- Maitreya Life Story
- Buddha Appearance
- Maitreya as a Meditational Deity: Three Faces, Four Arms
- Masterworks
- Others...

Maitreya Number Sets:
- Buddhas of the Three Times
- Eight Great Bodhisattvas
- One Thousand Buddhas of the Age
- Mandala Retinue Figure
- Others...

Maitreya is primarily depicted according to the descriptions found in The Mahayana Sutra literature. He does not play any significant role, if any, in the Tantra literature. A single meditation practice of Maitreya is listed in the Rinjung Lhantab of Jonang Taranata. That form of the bodhisattva as an ishtadevata has three faces and four arms.

Jeff Watt 4-2017 [updated 7-2018]