Stone Standing Maitreya Bodhisattva from Gamsansa Temple Site

  • Culture / Period

    Unified Silla Period

  • Provenance


  • Materials

    Stone - Granite

  • Dimensions

    H. 270.0cm

  • Designation

    National Treasure 81

  • Accession Number

    Bongwan 1958

  • Share
In the late 7th century, the three kingdoms of Silla, Baekje, and Goguryeo were unified by Silla, initiating the Unified Silla Period (676-935). This era was marked by relative social stability and material wealth, which allowed Korean Buddhism—and Korean Buddhist art in particular—to reach its zenith. In 1915, these two statues of Maitreya and Amitabha were moved from the site of Gamsansa Temple in Gyeongju, once the capital of Silla. Both sculptures are made from granite, and display highly advanced carving skills. Granite is a very hard stone that must be carved with a hammer and chisel, so creating fine detail was (and still is) an arduous, difficult process. But these two Buddhist statues both feature realistic details and elaborate ornamentation, demonstrating the advanced skills of Silla stone carvers. The Maitreya, with a warm facial expression, is slightly bent at the waist, while the Amitabha has a stern look and a very erect posture. According to the inscriptions on the back, the statues were started in 719 by a Unified Silla government official named Kim Ji-seong. He wished to make the Maitreya Bodhisattva in memory of his mother and the Amitabha Buddha for his father, both deceased. However, the following year, he died suddenly before completing his work; the statues were then completed in his memory, and so his soul could be at rest.