Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tara (Buddhist Deity) - Green

སྒྲོལ་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 度母(本尊)(全像)
(item no. 239)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Uncertain
Size 58.42x39.37cm (23x15.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.8.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Green Tara of the Sandalwood Forest (Tibetan: drol ma jang ku seng den ngag. English: the Green Saviouress, or The One who Liberates). This is a pilgrim painting made in either Lhasa or Shigatse for the many Nepalese visitors on religious pilgrimage. A lengthy inscription at the bottom has the Nepalese year 973 (Western year 1853).

Tibetan: Drol ma jang ku

Three Deity Tara of the Sandalwood Forest (Sadhanasamucchaya #48, Thartse Panchen)

"On an eight petalled lotus...is Holy Tara, reddish-green in colour, one face and two hands. The right [hand] is in the gesture of supreme generosity and the left holds with the thumb and ring finger an utpala to the heart. Wearing beautiful jewel ornaments and various silks, the hair as a crown, seated in a posture with the right leg extended and the left drawn up. On the right [side] is orange Marichi holding in the left [hand] a branch of the Ashoka tree. On the left is black Ekajati holding a skullcup in the left. Both hold in the right [hands] a fly-whisk; adorned with jewels and beautiful silk clothing, with the two legs placed equally in a standing manner." (Thartse Panchen Namka Chime).

Dark green in colour, she has one face and two hands. The palm of the right hand is in the mudra (gesture) of supreme generosity holding the stem of a lotus - blossoming at the right ear. Held to the heart, the left thumb and forefinger hold a blue utpala flower, blossoming at the left ear. Peaceful, smiling and youthful she is adorned with flowing silks of various colours and jewel ornaments, gold tiara and the like; seated with the right leg slightly extended in a relaxed manner and the left drawn up. On a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus seat she sits in the courtyard of a celestial palace in a sandalwood grove in the pure land of Potala on an island in the South Indian sea.

To the left is Marichi, yellow, with one face and two hands holding a branch of an ashoka tree. To the right is Ekajati, blue-black, with three eyes and a fierce expression holding a curved knife and skullcup, wearing a tiger skin skirt. Both attendant bodisattvas are in a standing posture above a moon disc and lotus seat. Behind stand two goddesses with parasols. Six musician and dancing goddesses perform in front.

On the upper floor of the palace sits buddha Amitabha with the two hands placed in meditation posture supporting a begging bowl. In the sky to the left sits Shri Devi (Tib.: pal lhamo), white, with one face and two hands holding an arrow in the right hand and a bowl in the left. She is the peaceful form of the wrathful goddess Shri Devi - Palden Lhamo. To the right is Magzor Gyalmo, dark blue and very wrathful, with one face and two hands; riding a mule. At each side heavenly beings reside in the clouds above.

At the bottom left is a human figure accepting gifts in an elaborate palace; on the right side a heavenly figure. To either side of the open doors of the pureland of Tara sit two figures, kneeling in prayer, one human and the other a naga.

Tara is a completely enlightened buddha and having promised to appear in the form of a female bodhisattva and goddess for the benefit of all beings she especially protects from the eight fears. 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

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Tara (Khadiravana Pureland)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 7
Buddhist Deity: Tara Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Green Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Sandalwood Forest
Subject: Pilgrimage Souvenir Paintings (Newar Merchants)
Buddhist Deity: Green Tara (Three Deity Configuration)