Maitreya carved into a mountain, Gansu Province. The iconography of Maitreya and his cult have gone through many transformations in Chinese society, from slim and sleek in the Northern Dynasties period to roly-poly in the Song era. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.
In early medieval China the cult of Maitreya was an important focus of Buddhist belief. The cult originally was associated with the goal of monk-scholars to be