Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tara (Buddhist Deity) - White

སྒྲོལ་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 度母(本尊)(全像)
(item no. 51)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1900 - 1959
Lineages Gelug
Size 74.93x53.98cm (29.50x21.25in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.9.5
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

White Tara (Tibetan: drol ma kar mo, English: the White Liberator).

The bodhisattva of long-life, White Tara, has one face and two hands, three eyes on her face and an eye on each palm of the hands and feet for a total of seven. The right hand rests across the knee in the gesture (mudra) of supreme generosity. The left hand holds to the heart the stem of a white lotus with pink shading; blossoming at the left ear. In a very peaceful mood, she is adorned with a tiara, a long and short necklace, gold and jewel ornaments and wears variously coloured silk garments. Sitting in vajra posture above a moon disc and lotus seat she is surrounded by a nimbus of various coloured rings framed with pink lotus blossoms.

At the top left corner in a rainbow sphere is the buddha realm of Sukhavati. In the center sits the lord of the realm, red Amitabha, with the hands in the posture of meditation; accompanied by two bodhisattvas and two monks. At the top right corner in a rainbow sphere inside the Potala realm is Avalokiteshvara seated in the center, white, with four hands accompanied by two bodhisattvas. Yellow Brahma and white Indra (Shakra) make offerings in front. At the top middle is a monastic figure wearing a yellow hat. It is most likely an image of the 13th Dalai Lama, Tubten Gyatso (1876-1933). Only the 13th Dalai Lama and the 5th Dalai Lama, Lobzang Gyatso (1617-1682), had a mustache and held a Dharma wheel. To the lower left is a seated buddha Akshobhya supporting an upright vajra in the left hand. Below to the left is the bodhisattva Manjushri, orange, holding a sword in the right hand and a lotus in the left. On the lower right is Avalokiteshvara, white, with four hands (Skt.: Chaturbhuja) also known as Shadaksari - the Six-syllable One. Below to the right is Green Tara with the right hand in supreme generosity and the left holding a lotus. She sits in a relaxed posture with the right leg extended.

On the right and left sides of the lotus of the central figure are the eight great bodhisattvas, the 'heart sons of the Buddha.' To the left is white Padmapani (Holder of the Lotus) Avalokiteshvara. Below that is blue Akashagarbha with the hands in prayer; orange Maitreya with the hands in the teaching gesture, and in the corner green Kshitagarbha. To the right side is blue Vajrapani holding a vajra in the right hand. Below that is red Samantabhadra with the hands in prayer, orange Manjushri with the hands in the teaching gesture and a lotus holding a sword and book. In the corner is golden Sarvanivarana-vishkambhin with the right hand in the gesture of giving protection and with the left holding a stalk of grain.

At the bottom center, on a white snow lion, sits the Direction Guardian of the North, Vaishravana, yellow, with one face and two hands holding a banner in the right and a mongoose in the left. Wish-fulfilling jewels and precious objects are arranged in front. To the left stands the powerful form of Vajrapani, wrathful, blue in colour, with two hands holding in the right a vajra held aloft and a lasso in the left held to the heart; completely surrounded by flames of wisdom. To the right of Vaishravana sits the wealth goddess Vasudhara, yellow, with one face and two hands holding a wealth vase in the extended right hand and a stalk of grain in the left. The right leg is extended in a relaxed manner.

White Tara is a longevity bestowing emanation of Green Tara and belongs to the Kriya classification of Tantra. All Schools of Tibetan Buddhism, new and old, practice White Tara. Within the Sarma Schools there are four famous lineages: Bari Lotsawa, Jowo Atisha, Kashmiri Pandita Shakya Shribhadra and Nyen Lotsawa Dharma Drag.

Jeff Watt 7-98

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Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
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Buddhist Deity: Tara, White Main Page