Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tara (Buddhist Deity) - White

སྒྲོལ་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 度母(本尊)(全像)
(item no. 542)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Size 66.04x44.45cm (26x17.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1996.32.5
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

White Tara, (Tibetan: drol ma kar mo): the female Buddha of longevity, commissioned by Yeshe Lobzang Tenpa (ye shes blo bzang bstan pa) and dedicating the merit with the intention to eliminate the suffering of untimely death of all sentient beings and to bestow the blessings of long life. (See the inscription on reverse of painting). It is very likely that the Yeshe Lobzang Tenpa mentioned in the inscription on the reverse is the 8th Tatsag Rinpoche, Yeshe Lobzang Tenpa Gonpo, 1760-1810 [TBRC P302]. The name and identity of the artist of the painting has not yet been researched.

"...with a hue white like an autumn moon - radiant like a stainless crystal jewel, shining with rays of light, one face, two hands, and having three eyes; with the conduct of having sixteen years of age. The right hand is in the mudra of supreme generosity; the left holds with the thumb and forefinger the stem of a white utpala to the heart with the petals blossoming at the ear. Representing the buddhas of the three times the single stem is divided into three, in the middle is a blossoming flower, the right in fruition, the left in the form of a bud; adorned with various jewel ornaments; having various silk upper garments and a lower garment of red silk; seated with the legs in vajra posture. The palms of the hands and feet each have an eye - the seven eyes of pristine awareness." (Sachen Ngagwang Kunga Lodro, 1729-1783).

Seated on a moon and pink lotus seat rising from the blue lotus pond below she emanates a blue-orange nimbus and a green-pink aureola surrounded on the sides and above by pink lotus blossoms.

At the top center is White Amitayus with one face and two hands holding a longevity vase; richly adorned with jewels and fabrics. To the left is red Amitayus, standing, holding a begging bowl and adorned with silks and jewels. To the right is the goddess Ushnishavijaya, white, with three faces and eight hands removing the obstacles to longevity.

At the bottom center is Green Tara, emerald in colour, with the two hands clasped at the heart holding the stems of two blue utpala flowers blossoming at each ear. Seated in a relaxed manner on a moon and lotus seat her right foot extended rests on a small lotus cushion. To the left is yellow Marichi in a peaceful appearance and to the right blue Ekajati with three eyes and orange hair flowing upward in one braid (Tib.: ral chig ma, Skt.: eka jati) slightly fierce. Both hold a long fly wisk with a white yak tail and stand in a posture with the legs together above a moon and lotus seat rising sprung from the dark blue, rippled, lotus pond.

Tara is a completely enlightened Buddha and as a young bodhisattva she promised that in the future, after achieving complete enlightenment, she would always appear in the form of a female bodhisattva and goddess for the benefit of all beings and especially to protect from the eight fears. In this white coloured form she specifically performs the activity of bestowing longevity. Practiced in all Schools of Tibetan Buddhism Tara is second in popularity only to Avalokiteshvara. Her practices are found in all classes of tantra - Nyingma and Sarma.

Jeff Watt 8-98

Reverse of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: [Extensive inscription on the reverse of painting]

Special Features: (is stupa-shaped, handprints, includes "Om Ah Hum" inscription)

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Iconographic Forms (Textual)
Buddhist Deity: Long-Life Deities
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery III
Buddhist Deity: Tara Main Page (Paintings)
Iconography: Peaceful Appearance
Subject: Female Imagery Introduction
Buddhist Deity: Tara, White Main Page
Subject: Three Long-life Deities
Subject: Three White Long-life Deities
Buddhist Deity: Tara - White (Masterworks)