Her left hand is held in the front of her heart, palm outwards, the thumb and ring finger together, so that the other three fingers point upwards. This mudra bestows protection and fearlessness through invoking the Three Jewels. Her thumb and ring finger delicately grasp the stem of a lotus flower, which curves upwards to open into a spray of blossoms by her left shoulder. There is a bud, a half opened flower, and a fully opened blossom. She is sixteen years old, full-breasted, with flowing black hair. Her face looks upon the world with a smile of such beauty and tenderness that the whole world trembles with joy. In other words, she is supremely beautiful.
Green Tara is especially associated with fearlessness and spontaneous helpfulness - like a mother instantly and unthinkingly leaping into danger if a child is threatened, Green Tara steps down at once to give aid and protection to any living being who calls on her. This function as protectress extends, in popular Buddhist tradition, far beyond the spiritual realm. Many Tara devotees call upon her or recite her mantra to guard against mundane perils and difficulties as well. Indeed because of her protective powers Tara was especially popular with merchants and traders, who often ran great risks on their journeys.
The right foot of Tara represents Enlightenment stepping down to us, reaching out a hand to lift us up. She is the Voidness clothed in its finest raiment. Because she is enlightenment presenting itself to us in such a familiar and attractive disguise, we can easily fail to see her true nature. For men she function as a anima figure, for women as a role model, and for both sexes as a form of earth or nature goddess. However, she is not defined by any of these views, and finally she is none of, and more than, any of them. She is the embodiment of compassion. She is the inconceivable, the unknowable, the ungraspable, presenting itself to us in a way that is easy for us poor mortals to relate to. This is made clear by the fact that her whole body is vacuous, made of light, neither existent nor non-existent.
As we see more deeply into her nature, we come to understand that she is not green, does not hold a lotus, does not reach down with her right leg. Her beautiful form is just a gateway to a deep inner experience which has neither color, nor form, nor sex. The external appearance of Tara is just a molehill hiding a mountain of enlightened qualities. So Tara is both easily approachable and fathomless, familiar yet beyond understanding.
Directly above Tara's head can be seen the green-hued Amoghasiddhi, her consort and companion. Buddhist stupas in the upper right corner, modeled on Swayambunath stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal, clearly indicate the painting's provenance from the same area.
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