Maitreya is a widely-believed bodhisattva in Chinese culture. Ordinary people worship him for his benevolence. According to Buddhist sutras, Maitreya was born in ancient India, a contemporary of Sakyamuni. He later took vows with Sakyamuni, becoming a Buddhist.
Being a Buddha after Sakyamuni, Maitreya began to deliver all living creatures from torment. In folk culture, the image of Maitreya is a person with a full figure, a benign countenance and a smiling face.
The belief in Maitreya has a long history in China. Way back in the Western Qin Dynasty, there appeared murals of Maitreya in the Bingling Temple Grottoes in Gansu. As Maitreya held a lofty position in the hearts of his worshippers, gigantic images of him were built in many places by later generations.