This gilt bronze statuette is of Maitreya, also known as “the compassionate one” and the Buddha of the future. It dates to the Eastern Wei Dynasty (534-550 CE) but is typical of the Northern Wei style which is characterized by its front facing orientation and flowing Chinese robes. The statue rests on a four-sided, four-legged base with an inscription giving the date 536 C.E. The inscription also lists forty-seven Buddhist disciples who dedicated the statue along with the name of the man who commissioned the piece. The hands are in the abhaya and varada mudra which symbolizes protection and gift giving. The Penn Museum’s piece is often described as the most beautiful example of this type. There is a similar piece at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that depicts asparas floating around the Buddha image.
Penn Museum Object #C355
See this and other objects like it on Penn Museum’s Online Collection Database