Legs : Wannieck, Léon
In Buddhism, there is a Buddha for each of the “three times”: past, present and future. Maitreya is the Buddha of the future. He is still a bodhisattva, awaiting enlightenment.
During the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534), Buddhism was not yet a fully established religion. Although Buddhism was declared the official religion, it endured heavy persecution under Emperor Taiwudi (424-452), protector of Taoism. His successor, Wenchengdi (452-465) decided, in expiation, to build a cave temple at Yungang. This bodhisattva comes from one of the grottoes at Yungang.
He is traditionally shown with legs pendant, and here, with ankles crossed. He has marked Western influences, such as here in the row of palmettes on the base and the drapery following the contours of the bodily form.
This style is characteristic of the first phase of construction of the grottoes.
Gilles Béguin, Le petit peuple des tombes, Paris Musées, 2010, p.43.