Stylistically this head compares well with other heads of similar date now in public and private collections that are identified as being originally from the Longmen Caves site. The hard, dark grey limestone, the carving of the facial features, especially the small pursed mouth, obliquely cut eyes and curved brows, the shape of the face with its full cheeks and small rounded double chin, and the hair carved in three distinctive whorls are features seen in all of theses heads.
One of the largest, 26 in. high, is illustrated by R.L. d'Argencé (ed.), Chinese, Korean and Japanese Sculpture in the Avery Brundage Collection, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1974, no. 106, where it is identified as being the central figure from the main cave in the Leigutai complex in the Eastern Hills of Longmen. This figure of Maitreya Buddha is thought to be from the end of the Dowager Empress Wu period, around the beginning of the 8th century. It is similarly identified and illustrated in Longmen Liusan Diaoxiang Ji (The Lost Statues of the Longmen Caves), Shanghai, 1993, p. 49, no. 56, where three other similar heads are also illustrated, no. 63 in the Victoria and Albert Museum, no. 64 in the Avery Brundage Collection and no. 66 in an American Collection.
Another similar head of Buddha, also from the Longmen Caves, also dated to just after the beginning of the 8th century, in the Yamaguchi Collection, Osaka Municipal Museum of Art, is illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, Longmen Caves, Miho Museum, 2001, no. 30. And a head in the collection of M. & Mme Léon Velluz, Paris, is illustrated by D. Lion-Goldschmidt and J-C. Moreau-Gobard, Chinese Art, New York, 1966, p. 170, 121.
All of these heads share a similar quality of calm, spiritual solemnity.