Beings, called bodhisattva, are spiritually realized figures that have attained enlightenment, but forgo the attainment of nirvana (ceasing of cyclic existence) to remain in samsara (the earthly realm of suffering) to assist others until all sentient beings become enlightened. Sometimes the title “buddha” and “bodhisattva” are used interchangeably, but in art, bodhisattva tend to be distinguished by the jewelry they wear—diadem, earrings, necklaces, armlets, bracelets, anklets—and luxurious clothing that floats around them in defiance of the law of gravity. Visual representations of buddha generally portray them without jewelry and less elaborate clothing. Devotees worship some bodhisattva as their central practice, much like worship of specific saints in the Christian tradition. Here is a selection of spectacular sculptures and paintings of bodhisattva in the Museum’s collection.