MediumClay, wood stand
DimensionsWork : 3 7/8 x 3 x 1 1/4 in. (9.84 x 7.62 x 3.18 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection, Gift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
LabelSmall clay votive tablets (tsatsa) were traditionally made by Mongolian Buddhist monks as a devotional practice. To create the tablets, the monks first pressed lumps of damp clay into metal molds while offering prayers to the depicted deities. The molded tablets were then laid out to dry in the sun, after which they were buffed smooth and sometimes painted. Finally, the finished tablets were given or sold to other monks and lay believers to use in their own devotional rituals. The figure portrayed on this tablet is Maitreya, a bodhisattva who will emerge in the future as the Buddha of the next age. As here, Maitreya is typically portrayed as a regal figure, dressed in fine clothing and sitting on a throne in the Tushita Heaven where he currently resides. Maitreya was held in especially high esteem by the Gelug School and the Maitreya Festival was an important annual event at most Mongolian Gelug monasteries and temples.