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Miroku (Maitreya) in meditation, gilt bronze figure, Japanese, Asuka period, 7th century; in the —The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund, 50.86
In Buddhist tradition, the future Buddha who will descend to earth to preach again the dharma (law) when the teachings of the Buddha Gautama have completely decayed. Until then, Maitreya is believed to be a bodhisattva residing in the Tusita heaven. Mentioned in scriptures from the 3rd century AD, he is the earliest bodhisattva around whom a cult developed and is still the only one generally honored by the Theravada tradition. His images, found throughout the Buddhist world, convey an air of expectancy and promise.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Maitreya, visit Britannica.com.
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