Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tara (Buddhist Deity) - White

སྒྲོལ་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 度母(本尊)(全像)
(item no. 997)
Origin Location Eastern Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Karma (Kagyu)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P2000.22.6
Painting School Karma Gardri
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Tara, White (Tibetan: drol ma, kar mo. English: the White Saviouress): peaceful in appearance, with one face and two hands, surrounded by eight Taras and eight story vignettes illustrating the overcoming of the eight fears.

"...Holy White Tara, with one face and two hands, the right in [the gesture of] supreme generosity, the left giving refuge, holding an utpala [flower]. Peaceful, smiling, with a moon as a backrest, adorned with silks and jewel ornaments..." (Dzongsar Kyentse Chokyi Lodro, 1893-1959).

Jeff Watt 11-2000


Tara in her white colored form is associated with practices helpful for increasing life span and removing sickness. As one of the most popular female Buddhas of Northern Buddhism representations of her are commonplace. The Tantric manuals that describe rituals, meditations and physical supports for practice prescribe that a practitioner have a painting placed on a personal shrine as a focus for ritual service. White Tara is distinguished from other deities by the seven eyes that adorn her body, three on the face and one each on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

Tara is also known for protecting from eight fears common to India in the first millennium A.D., 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. On an inner level they represent the fears/obstacles of pride, desire, anger, ignorance, envy and the like.

Painted in an Eastern Tibetan style betraying Chinese artistic influences, the central figure commands the composition in size and detail. Eight small narrative vignettes surround the central figure and portray each of the eight fears along with the protection Tara provides.

Jeff Watt 5-2005

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

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Tara, White, Eight Fears (Palpung Style)
Buddhist Deity: Tara, White Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Tara, Eight Fears (single painting)
Buddhist Deity: Tara, White (Palpung Composition)
Buddhist Deity: Tara, White (Eight Fears)
Painting Style: Palpung - Peaceful & Semi-Peaceful Deities
Painting: Copies & Facsimiles
Buddhist Deity: Long-Life Deities
Tradition: Kagyu Deity Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 9
Buddhist Deity: Tara Main Page (Paintings)