Seated Maitreya, Northern Wei dynasty, dated 512. Marble, height 40,3 cm. National Gallery of Prague Vp 3176.

Small votive sculptures made of bronze or stone were predominantly made for use in home shrines and facilitated the spread of Buddhist iconography throughout the Chinese territory. In the beginning, they mostly portrayed the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. However, the identity of the statues changed with the developing Buddhist doctrine throughout the 5th and 6th centuries. In this period, the popularity of the historical Buddha was eclipsed by the cult of Maitreia – the Buddha of the Future – and Amitabha, who was believed to reign over the Buddhist Paradise called The Pure Land, were depicted.