Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tara (Buddhist Deity) - Green

སྒྲོལ་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 度母(本尊)(全像)
(item no. 90525)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Green Tara (Tibetan: drol ma jang ku. English: Saviouress): Removing the Fear of Elephants. (See the Tara, Eight Fears Page and the Eight Fears Outline Page).

Tibetan: Drol ma jang ku

Dark green, the colour of emerald, with one face and two hands, the right is extended across the right knee with the palm facing outward in the mudra (gesture) of giving protection - 'fearlessness.' The left is held at the heart in the mudra of blessing while holding the stem of an utpala flower blossoming at the left ear. The hair is tied in a topknot with some falling loose, adorned with a small figure of Buddha Amitabha, red in colour, sitting on the crown. Wearing a tiara of flowers, gold and jewels, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, a long flowing red scarf and silks of various colours. In the relaxed posture of 'royal ease' with the right leg extended, the left drawn up, she is seated above a moon disc and pink lotus seat. Spheres of various coloured lights in circular patterns emanate from her body. A white conch and wishing jewels are arranged on the ground in front.

At the top left sits the Buddha Shakyamuni, golden in colour, performing the 'earth witness' mudra with the right hand and holding a black begging bowl in the lap with the left; seated on a pink lotus and billowing clouds.

At the left of the foreground is a village with three figures taking notice of a herd of rampaging elephants emerging from the forest.

Tara is a completely enlightened buddha who had previously promised to appear, after enlightenment, in the form of a female bodhisattva and goddess for the benefit of all beings. Practiced in all Schools of Tibetan Buddhism her various forms are found in all classes of tantra - Nyingma and Sarma. The famous 10 syllable mantra and short tantra, the 'Twenty-one Praises of Tara' spoken by the buddha Samantabhadra, are memorized and popularly recited by all Tibetans from the time of early childhood. The special activity of Tara is to protect from the 8 and 16 fears. The eight fears are water, fire, lions, snakes, elephants, thieves, imprisonment and ghosts, meant literally, they also have a deeper psychological significance. This painting is only one from a set of nine depicting each of the eight fears and a central painting of Green Tara.

Jeff Watt 10-98

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art
Buddhist Deity: Tara Main Page (Paintings)
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Green Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Eight Fears (set 3)
Collection of Southern Alleghenies: Deity