Himalayan Art Resources

Mongolia: Winter Palace, Tara (SRG Archive)

Winter Palace: Tara Sculpture | Winter Palace Museum Main Page

Twenty-one Tara Figures:
- Green Tara (central)
- Marichi (proper right side) [Rubin Museum of Art]
- Ekajati (proper left side)
- Twenty-one Taras (placed to the right and left sides of the central figure)

The set of Twenty-one Taras belonging to the collection of the Winter Palace Museum in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. The full set of figures includes the twenty-one figures of Tara according to the system of Jowo Atisha along with a large central Tara accompanied by Marichi seated on the proper right and Ekajati on the left. There are a total of twenty-four figures. There are actually two systems of Tara being resented, the Twenty-one of Atisha and then the three deity Tara configuration with Marichi and Ekajati which is an earlier and very popular system.

The Marichi figure currently belongs to the Rubin Museum of Art. Three or four of the figures from the Twenty-one Taras are also missing from the set. One of the missing Tara figures appeared at a Sotheby's New York auction in March of 2010.

The Twenty-one Taras according to the tradition of Atisha is one of five Twenty-one Tara Sytems current in Tibetan Buddhism. The oldest system is likely that of Suryagupta. The Atisha system depicts all of the Taras with the same single face and two arms, in a sitting posture. The variations are in the Atisha system are in colour only. Each of the individual Taras holds a vase in the outstretched right hand. The vase is the same colour as the body colour of that Tara. Some of the Taras are described as being slightly fierce meaning they may have an open mouth with slightly enlarged canine teeth and furrowed brow above the eyes.

Jeff Watt [updated 4-2019]