Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tara (Buddhist Deity) - Green

སྒྲོལ་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 度母(本尊)(全像)
(item no. 827)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Uncertain
Size 54.61x35.56cm (21.50x14in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1999.9.1
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Tara, Green (Tibetan: drol ma jang ku. English: the Green Liberator, or Saviouress): protecting from the fear of ghosts and daemons. See Tara Outline Page.

Tibetan: Drol ma jang ku

Tara is a completely enlightened Buddha who in a previous life had made the promise to always appear, after enlightenment, in the form of a female goddess for the benefit of all beings. She manifests in a variety of forms and numeric groupings, the Day and Night Tara with two forms, Tara that Protects from the Eight Fears with eight forms, and the group of Twenty-one Taras according to several different Indian traditions: Suryagupta, Atisha and the Sadhanasamucchaya.

This painting belongs to a set of nine. The first painting is the centerpiece of the set from which Tara gazes forward at the viewer. The other Taras are arranged at the sides of the centerpiece and face inward. Buddhist painting sets are almost always odd numbered so that one painting is at the center.

The Eight Fears that Tara protects from appear very common; they are protection from elephants, lions, snakes, ghosts, fire, drowning, bandits, and tyrants. These were in the past and still are in the present fears of many people around the world. Those eight are also known as the outer fears, sometimes understood as obstacles. Each of the fears is illustrated in each painting by a small vignette such as a person being chased by an elephant. On an inner level these fears/obstacles represent pride, desire, anger, ignorance, envy, and the like. There is also a secret level of meaning following the standard Tantric Buddhist division into outer, inner, and secret explanations. (The painting depicting the fear of snakes is missing from this set.)

Jeff Watt & Monty McKeever 4-2005

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

Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 8
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Eight Fears (set 1)
Buddhist Deity: Tara Main Page