Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tara (Buddhist Deity) - Green

སྒྲོལ་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 度母(本尊)(全像)
(item no. 323)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Uncertain
Size 67.31x54.61cm (26.50x21.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.17.7
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

The Bodhisattva Tara (Tibetan: drol ma), Saviouress from the Eight Fears.

Tibetan: Drol ma jang ku

Seated amidst scenes of worldly strife, Tara is beautiful and peaceful, green in colour (here she is painted with gold), with one face and two hands. The right hand is extended in the mudra of supreme generosity and the left is held at the heart in the mudra of blessing while holding the stem of a blue utpala flower blossoming above the left shoulder. The hair is tied in a top-knot with some falling loose, adorned with a tiara of gold and jewels, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, she wears flowing silks in a variety of colours and a lower garment of rainbow hues tied with a green sash. In a relaxed posture with the right leg extended, the foot resting on a lotus cushion, the left drawn up, she sits on a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus seat atop a stem rising from a lotus pond. At her right two small figures of monks offer petitions to be saved from the danger and fear of water (1).

At the top center sits the Buddha Amitabha with the hands in the mudra of meditation; surrounded by rainbow tethers. At the left sits Tara protecting from the danger and fear of lions (2). Below that, Tara sits above a thick rain cloud and with the right hand holding a vase she pours abundant water, upon a dwelling and itÃ??s petitioning inhabitants, to remove the danger and fear of fire (3). At the lower left, standing tall before a grove of trees Tara protects a laywoman from the danger and fear of a large snake (4). At the top right, Tara protects a layman from the danger and fear of a rampaging elephant (5). Below that, she protects a lone traveler form the danger and fear of two marauding thieves on horseback (6). And below that, she protects a fervent petitioner from the danger and fear of imprisonment from unjust rulers (7). At the bottom center a seated Tara, beside a cluster of wishing jewels and precious objects, protects a lay couple from the attack of a red daemonic ghost with arms outstretched and small outstretched wings (8).

Tara is a completely enlightened buddha who had previously promised to appear, after enlightenment, in the form of a female bodhisattva and goddess for the benefit of all beings. Practiced in all Schools of Tibetan Buddhism her various forms are found in all classes of tantra - Nyingma and Sarma. Her 10 syllable mantra and the short tantra known as the 'Twenty-One Praises of Tara' spoken by the buddha Samantabhadra are memorized and popularly recited by all Tibetans from the time of childhood. Her primary activity is to protect from the 8 and 16 fears. These eight; water, lions, fire, snakes, elephants, thieves, imprisonment and ghosts, are meant both literally and metaphorically with deeper meanings for each.

Jeff Watt 9-98

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery II
Buddhist Deity: Tara Main Page (Paintings)
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Green Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Eight Fears (single painting)