Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tara (Buddhist Deity) - Green

སྒྲོལ་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 度母(本尊)(全像)
(item no. 90701)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Buddhist
Size 43.18x0.32cm (17x0.13in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Tibet House, New York
Catalogue # Gift of Shelley & Donald Rubin
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Green Tara (Tibetan: drol ma jang ku), the Saviouress from the Eight Fears.

Tibetan: Drol ma jang ku

Relaxed and at ease, is green in colour, with one face and two hands, the right hand is extended across the knee in the mudra of supreme generosity holding the stem of a lotus flower blossoming above the shoulder. The left hand is held at the heart in the mudra of blessing while holding the stem of a flower blossoming above the left shoulder. The hair is tied in a topknot with some falling loose, adorned with a crown of gold and precious jewels, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, she wears flowing silks and a lower garment of various colours. In a relaxed posture with the right leg extended, the foot resting on a lotus cushion, the left drawn up, she sits on a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus seat atop a square throne. Here she has been rendered in gold paint as an offering. With a jewel studded nimbus and areola she is surrounded by flower blossoms and green leaves. At the front a small table holds wishing jewels and precious objects of offering.

At the top center sits the Buddha Amitabha with the hands in the mudra of meditation. At each side, holding aloft a peacock vase, stands an attendant. To the right is the goddess of long-life, Ushnishavijaya, white with three faces and eight hands, seated in the vajra posture. To the left is a lama wearing monastic robes and hat seated on a cushion before a small table of gold ritual objects.

Alongside the central Tara are eight further identical forms emanated to protect from the eight fears; lions, elephants, snakes, fire, water, robbers, ghosts and imprisonment. In front of each is a small petitioning figure. The lion, elephant, water and fire are represented at the lower left and the snake and imprisonment are represented at the lower right. At the bottom center is the wrathful bodhisattva Vajrapani, dark blue, with one face and two hands standing surrounded by the fires of pristine awareness.

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. Her 10 syllable mantra and the short tantra known as the 'Twenty-One Praises of Tara' spoken by the buddha Samantabhadra are memorized and popularly recited by all Tibetans from the time of childhood. Her primary activity is to protect from the 8 great fears. These eight are meant literally but also have a deeper psychological significance applicable to all of humanity.

Jeff Watt 9-98

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Tibet House: New York (Repatriation)
Buddhist Deity: Tara Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Eight Fears (single painting)
Subject: Eye Coverings