Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tara (Buddhist Deity) - (Atisha, 21 Taras)

སྒྲོལ་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 度母(本尊)(全像)
(item no. 340)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Gelug
Size 41.91x29.21cm (16.50x11.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.23.5
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Female

TBRC: bdr:W25346

Interpretation / Description

Red Tara, Blazing Like Fire (Tibetan: drol ma mar mo): 2nd Panchen Lama Lobzang Yeshe, Manjushri, Heruka Vajrabhairava, Dorje Setrab, and Chingkarwa. Number 13 from the set of Twenty-one Taras of the lineage of Lord Atisha; protecting from hindrances and obstacles.

Red in colour with one face and two hands, the right hand is in the mudra (gesture) of supreme generosity holding a red vase extended across the knee. The left hand is held to the heart with the thumb and forefinger holding the stem of a red and blue utpala flower blossoming at the left ear. Slightly fierce, with three eyes and youthful, she is adorned with flowing silks of green and blue, adorned with gold 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 encircled by a blue-orange nimbus and an red aureola she sits surrounded by a lush green landscape. At the front, in a golden bowl, auspicious fruit is offered.

At the top center is the bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjushri, orange, with one face and two hands holding a sword and lotus supporting a wisdom book. To the left is the heruka form of the tutelary deity Vajrabhairava, dark blue, with a buffalo head, holding a curved knife and skullcup, embracing the consort Vajra Vetali. To the right is a seated lama wearing monastic robes and a yellow pandita hat performing the mudra of blessing and holding a black begging bowl. A tether of rainbow light joins his heart to the heart of Manjushri.

At the bottom left is the wrathful worldly protector Setrap Chen, red, with one face and two hands wearing the attire of a warrior, holding a stick and lasso; riding a brown horse. At the right is the worldly protector Chingkarwa, white, with one face and two hands holding a lance in the right and a bowl of jewels in the left; riding a white horse.

Tara is a completely enlightened buddha who in a previous life promised to appear, after enlightenment, in the form of a female bodhisattva and goddess for the benefit of all beings. Her primary activity is to protect from the eight fears. Practiced in all Schools of Tibetan Buddhism her various forms are found in all classes of tantra - Nyingma and Sarma.

From the tantra known as the Twenty-One Praises of Tara spoken by the buddha Samantabhadra arises a system of practice with 21 emanations of Tara - 1 for each verse of the praise. Each form of Tara has a specific colour and accomplishes a specific activity. Based on that, there are 3 well known and distinct lineages; Pandita Suryagupta, Lord Atisha and the lineage from the Nyingma Lama - Longchenpa. The 3 lineages do not share the same iconographic forms. In the Atisha system all the Taras appear in the same basic posture and only differ with the colour of the body. Aside from these 3 there are other less well known sets of 21 Taras.

This painting belongs to a set of 21 depicting all the forms of Tara according to the Atisha Lineage. A short inscription is written in the areola above Tara

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: Left six.

Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: gyon drug pa.

Reverse of Painting
Special Features: (includes "Om Ah Hum" inscription)

Secondary Images
Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Female Buddhas at Bruce Museum of Art

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Red (Atisha Tradition)
Painting Set: Tara, Twenty-one (Panchen Lama)
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Red (All Forms)
Buddhist Deity: Tara (Atisha Tradition)
Tradition: Gelug Deity Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Buddhist Deity: Tara Main Page