Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tara (Buddhist Deity) - White

སྒྲོལ་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 度母(本尊)(全像)
(item no. 658)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Buddhist
Size 81.28x64.77cm (32x25.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Raised Gold on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1998.5.8
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

White Tara (Tibetan: drol ma kar mo. English: the White Saviouress, or Liberator), one of the three principal long-life deities, surrounded by 202 emanations of Green Tara.

Peaceful in appearance with one face and two hands, white in colour (gold painted), she has seven eyes, three on the face and one each on the palms of the hands and feet. Holding to the heart the stem of a lotus flower, blossoming at the left side, the right hand is extended across the knee in the mudra (gesture) of generosity. Adorned with a gold tiara, earrings, necklaces and variously coloured garments, she sits in vajra posture above a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus flower rising above a lotus pond, encircled by a blue-pink nimbus and red aureola framed by billowing white clouds.

Directly above is the buddha Amitabha, Lord of the Lotus Family, with the hands in the mudra of meditation, seated in vajra posture above a pink lotus. At the lower left is the bodhisattva and future buddha, Maitreya, with the two hands held to the heart in the teaching mudra while holding the stems of two lotus flowers blossoming at each side supporting a water flask on the right and a Dharma wheel on the left. Attired in jewel ornaments and variously coloured garments, he sits in a relaxed posture with the left leg extended. At the right is the bodhisattva Manjushri with the right hand performing the mudra of generosity and the left at the heart performing the mudra of blessing. Both hands hold the stem of an utpala flower blossoming at each side supporting a wisdom sword and book; also seated in a relaxed posture.

Surrounding the central figures are 202 forms of Green Tara (painted in gold) each with one face and two hands, the right extended in the mudra of generosity and the left holding a lotus flower. With the right leg pendant in a relaxed manner and the left folded in, they are seated in rows on lotus flowers encircled by red and green spheres of light.

Tara is a completely enlightened buddha, who in a previous aeon had promised in the future after reaching enlightenment to always appear in the form of a female bodhisattva and goddess for the benefit of all beings, especially to protect from the eight and sixteen fears. In this white form she specifically performs the blessings 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. The lineages of practice arise predominantly from Jowo Atisha, Bari Lotsawa, Nyen Lotsawa and Shakyashri Bhadra.

Jeff Watt 4-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Tara (Repeated Figures)
Buddhist Deity: Long-Life Deities
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 7
Buddhist Deity: Tara Main Page (Paintings)
Buddhist Deity: Tara, White Main Page
Subject: Composition - Repeated Figures Main Page