Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Mandala of Tara (Buddhist Deity) - (Suryagupta, 17 Deity)

སྒྲོལ་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 度母(本尊)(全像)
(item no. 779)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1400 - 1499
Lineages Sakya
Size 52.07x45.09cm (20.50x17.75in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Shelley & Donald Rubin
Catalogue # acc.# P1998.4.13
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Tara 17 Deity Mandala (Tibetan: drol ma chu dun kyil kor): comprising the Five Buddha Families and consorts, according to the tradition of Suryagupta (also known as Ravigupta).

Video: Green Tara 17 Deity Mandala: HAR 779

In the central position, dark green in colour with one face and two hands, the meditational deity Tara gazes forward in a peaceful appearance. The right hand placed at the heart holds the stem of a lotus flower blossoming at her right shoulder supporting an upright curved knife with a vajra handle. The left hand holds to the heart a white skullcup. Both arms embrace the consort. Her long black hair is piled on the crown of the head with some hanging loose across the shoulders. Adorned with a tiara of gold and jewels, red ribbons, large earrings, bracelets and anklets, she embraces the consort Buddha Amoghasiddhi with the two arms and straddles his waist with the legs. Light green in colour with one face and two hands, he holds a variously coloured visvavajra in the left and a gold bell in the right. Adorned with a gold crown, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and a jewelled girdle, he is locked in a sexual embrace and passionate kiss; seated in vajra posture. Above a white moon disc and pink lotus blossom the couple sits in a sphere of red swirling light encircled by a gold ring adorned with pink lotus petals.

In the surrounding circle, directly above, is the Buddha Amitabha, red in colour, peaceful, with one face and two hands held to the heart. The right holds the stem of a lotus flower blossoming over the right shoulder and the left a gold bell to the heart. Wearing elaborate sambhogakaya vestments he sits in vajra posture. At the right is the consort Pandara Vasini, white, similar in appearance; holding to the heart a lotus handled curved knife and a skullcup. At the right is Buddha Akshobhya, blue, similar in appearance; holding to the heart a gold vajra and bell. Below is the consort Mamaki, blue, similar in appearance; holding to the heart a vajra handled curved knife and a skullcup, seated in a relaxed posture. Below is Buddha Vairochana, white, holding a wheel to the heart and a bell at the side. At the left is the consort Vajradhatvishvari, white, similar in appearance, holding to the heart a wheel handled curved knife and a skullcup, seated in a relaxed posture. At the left is Buddha Ratnasambhava, yellow, holding to the heart a jewel and bell. Above is the consort Buddha-Locani, yellow, holding to the heart a jewel handled curved knife and a white skullcup, seated in a relaxed posture. Each is seated on a moon disc and the inner ring of pink lotus petals, surrounded by variously coloured spheres of light creating the shape of an eight-petalled lotus encircled by a blue ring.

Outside of the circle, within the square enclosure are four female attendant deities, yellow Mukunda, red Muraja, green Vamsha and white Vina, all with one face, the two hands placed at the heart and seated in a relaxed posture. At the four doors, 'T' shaped structures, are four female guardian deities. At the left, yellow Varamukha with a pig face; above, red Shvanamukha with a dog face; at the right, white Simhamukha with a lion face; below, white Hayamukha with a horse face. Each has one face and two hands held to the heart, seated in a relaxed posture. Each holds a unique hand object.

The outer square enclosure composed of layered strips of colour represent the walls of the celestial palace. The levels of the roof symbolically rise above each of the 'T' shaped doors topped with a Dharma wheel and two reclining deer. The edges of the roof are adorned with upright banners and streamers. The palace sits on a visvavajra of four colours observed by the tines encircling the roof structures. A multi-coloured lotus with rectangular petals serves as the ground for all. Various worldly deities populate an outer ring, red in colour, and outside of that is the five coloured flames of pristine awareness completely enclosing the fabricated palace structure.

At the top left is the buddha Shakyamuni, followed by Tara and the teachers of the lineage, alternating in dark and light appearance. At the upper left is the tutelary deity Chakrasamvara accompanied by a mahasiddha and a monk. At the upper right is the buddha of Boundless Life, Amitayus and consort accompanied by two monks with red pandita hats. At the lower right is Vajravarahi with two monks. At the lower left is Rakta Yamari with two monks.

At the bottom left are three figures wearing monastic robes and performing various mudras (gestures), followed by white Padmapani Avalokiteshvara holding two lotus blossoms and seated in a relaxed posture. To the right is wrathful Vajrapani, blue, holding a vajra upraised with the right hand and a bell at the side; followed by the wealth deity yellow Jambhala holding a bijapuraka fruit and a mongoose. The wrathful protector black Panjarnata Mahakala holds a curved knife and skullcup to the heart accompanied by Shri Devi, light blue, with one face and four hands, riding a mule. A solitary monk sits at the bottom right corner, likely the patron of the painting.

Lineage: Shakyamuni, Arya Tara, Ravigupta, Chandragarbha, Jetari, Vagishvarakirti, Shraddhakaravarma, Tatagata Rakshita, Danashri, Manjushri, Mal Lotsawa, Putser Lotsawa, Ishvarakirti, Dharma Simha, Sthiramati, Gaganakirti, Arya Matidvaja Shribhadra (Chogyal Pagpa, 1235-1280), etc. (Collected Writings of the Great Founding Masters of Sakya, Volume 14. chos rgyal 'phags pa'i bka' 'bum, folio277).

Lineage from Buton Rinchen Drub: Arya Tara, Nagarjuna, Suryagupta, Danashri, Manjushri, Ratnakirta, Kirtidvaja, Punyamurta, Prajnakirta, Shilasthira, Gunamata, Prajna Kumara. (Buton, 1290-1364).

(Currently there are only three other known paintings of this subject. All are mandala compositions and reside in Private collections).

Jeff Watt 7-1999

Reverse of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: Mantra of interdependent causation

Wylie Transliteration of Inscription: Om ye dharma...

Special Features: (Cursive script (Umay), is black, includes "Om Ah Hum" inscription)

Secondary Images
Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Female Buddhas at RMA

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Mandalas: Female Deities
Buddhist Deity: Tara (Suryagupta Tradition)
Buddhist Deity: Tara (Mandalas)
Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin
Buddhist Deity: Tara Masterworks
Buddhist Deity: Green Tara 17 Deity Mandala
Subject: Female Dominant Deity Couples
Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin (Masterworks)
Mandala: Masterworks Page
Buddhist Deity: Tara (Yoganiruttara, Anuttarayoga)
Mandala: Sakya Masterworks
Buddhist Deity: Tara (Early Paintings)
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Green (15th Century)
Index: Female Deities & Names
Buddhist Deity: Tara (Miscellaneous Iconography Masterworks)
Subject: Female Deities - Green
Mandala: Mandala Main Page
Tradition: Sakya Deity Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Suryagupta Tradition (Masterworks)
Buddhist Deity: Tara Art History
Buddhist Deity: Tara Main Page
Mandalas: Sakya Tradition
Painting Style: Western Tibetan