Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Tara, White, Three Iconographic Topics

Three Iconographic Topics | Tara, White (Forms & Types)

Three Iconographic Topics:
--- Iconographic Details (textual description/iconography)
--- Non-iconographic Details (stylistic interpretation/art history)
--- Symbolic Meanings (religious context)
- Textual Descriptions (below)

- White Tara, Part 1 (introduction)
- White Tara, Part 2 (iconography)
- White Tara: Three Iconographic Categories

Iconographic Details: (figure & attributes/Text based)
- Female
- One face, Two arms
- Seven eyes
- White in colour
- Peaceful Appearance (Youthful)
- Gesture of generosity & holding a white utpala
- Peaceful Ornaments
- Seated in vajrasana posture, moon disc, lotus seat
- Moon disc back support
- Masterwork Examples

Non-iconographic Details: (stylistic interpretation/art history [examples])
- Body proportions
- Iconometric measurements
- Design of ornaments
- Design & colour of garments
- Tilt of the head
- Body sway
- Outer halo type & colour
- Others...

Symbolic Meanings: (religious context)
- Figure
- Attributes
- Adornments
- Supports

Four Textual Examples:

[28] Sita Tara: White Tara Bestower of Life.
'White Tara. The right [hand is in the gesture of] supreme generosity and the left holds an utpala. Radiating light like an autumn moon. The back supported by a moon. Seated in the vajrasana [posture]. [Having] the same ornaments and garments.' (By Ngorchen Konchog Lhundrub (1497-1557), bibliographic information. Based on the Bari Gyatsa of Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag, 1040-1112 [P3731]).

"...with a hue white like an autumn moon - radiant like a stainless crystal jewel, shining with rays of light, one face, two hands, and having three eyes; with the conduct of having sixteen years of age. The right hand is in the mudra of supreme generosity; the left holds with the thumb and forefinger the stem of a white utpala to the heart with the petals blossoming at the ear. Representing the buddhas of the three times the single stem is divided into three, in the middle is a blossoming flower, the right in fruition, the left in the form of a bud; adorned with various jewel ornaments; having various silk upper garments and a lower garment of red silk; seated with the legs in vajra posture. The palms of the hands and feet each have an eye - the seven eyes of pristine awareness." (Sachen Ngagwang Kunga Lodro, 1729-1783).

'The Holy One Bhagavati Wish-fulfilling Wheel, Giver of Life, with a body white in colour, one face, two hands. The right hand is in supreme generosity, the left at the heart in a thumb and ring-finger gesture exemplifying the buddhas of the three times, holding an utpala; seated with the feet in vajra posture, possessing seven eyes of pristine awareness, adorned with silks and jewel ornaments.' (Bhande Wangchug Rabten).

'Tara Chintachakra, with the hue of an autumn moon, a charming youth of sixteen years, one face, two hands, possessing seven eyes of pristine awareness. The right hand is in supreme generosity, the left holds a white utpala with a mass of blossoming flowers hanging, dark blue-black hair tied in tufts, the remainder hanging loose in braids, wearing silks and various jewel ornaments, the back supported by moon light, seated upright with the two feet in vajra posture.' (Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, 1820-1892).

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Jeff Watt 7-2023

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).