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Green Tara with Twenty-One Taras

Green Tara with Twenty-One Taras
Item Code: TK78
Tibetan Thangka Painting
Size of Painted Surface 14.5 inches X 20.5 inches
Size with Brocade 27.0 inches X 36.0 inches
The Saviouress goddess Tara is a Meditational deity and is the most popular goddess in Buddhist pantheon. 'Tara' the Sanskrit name of the goddess is derived from the root 'tar' (to cross). In other words, Tara helps to cross the Ocean of Existence. The Tibetan translation of 'Tara' is sgrol-ma, which means 'saviouress' or 'deliveress'. The worship of Tara is commonly found throughout Tibet and very much famous in Northern Buddhist countries. There are various legends in regard to the origin of Tara, one of them being that she was born from a ray that shone from the eyes of Amitabha Buddha. Buddhist generally invoke goddess Tara to cross him over, to liberate him or her and in that movement she emerges, the saviouress Tara by name, from the root 'tar' to save, to lead across'. Whosoever chants her name, Tara takes cross, leads over to the yonder shore, to rescue, to rescue the world of the living restless and trembling in the fleeting breeze of transience. Devout Buddhists believe that if human beings utter the name of Tara audibly or inaudibly with sincerity of purpose they may obtain mystical insight and spontaneously acquire the ability for visualizing all mundane problems in their right perspective. There are twenty-one forms of Tara – the most popular are Green Tara and White Tara. The Japanese believe that Tara made two vows – to conquer evil (as Green Tara) and to save human beings (as White Tara).

This handsome thangka depicts the saviouress goddess Green Tara in the center. She is surrounded with the group of twenty-one Taras. The large central image of Green Tara is seated in lalitasana on a beautiful lotus flower that sprang up in a lake. Her right leg is pendant on a smaller lotus. Her left leg is folded into her lap. Her right hand, gracefully held on her right knee, is in varada mudra of presenting boon and also holding a stem of a lotus flower by thumb and index finger. The left hand is in the attitude of protection with a lotus flower. She has a lovely young face and her body is slim and slender. Her hair is partly upswept in a knot with beautiful decoration on it and falls on her shoulders. She has two compassionate eyes and there is a circle between the eyebrows. Her lips are painted red. She is adorned with exquisitely designed gold ornaments – five-lobbed crown, Hoop earrings, necklaces, armlets, bracelets and anklets. Moreover she is wearing a white blouse, flowing silk scarves and dhoti with leggings made of multicolored bands of silk. A red halo and yellow mandorla are behind her. The offerings to the five senses are beautifully depicted below the throne of central image of Green Tara.

The small images of twenty-one Taras surround the central image. These images of Taras are depicted in similar posture and gesture as in the case of central image, except the image, depicted in upper right corner. The complexions of small images of Taras differ from each other. All of them are holding lotus flower in left hands. Their right hands are in the gesture of vara. They are wearing beautiful costumes and ornaments – crown, necklaces, earrings, armlets, bracelets, anklets; blouse, flowing scarves, and dhoti with leggings made of multicolored bands of silk. All of them are seated on lotus throne. The images depicted in the background and upper middle ground, are shown in clouds, while the images depicted in lower middle ground and foreground are depicted on a beautiful mountainous landscape with natural vegetation. There is an image of svayambhunath stupa in the foreground. All the images are brilliantly drawn and painted. The painting of twenty-one are considered as very auspicious and powerful thus the present thangka is very much suitable for sadhana and ritual practices.

Select Bibliography

A. Getty, The Gods of Northern Buddhism, Tokyo, 1962

Ben Meulenbeld, Buddhist Symbolism in Tibetan Thangka, Holland, 2001

B. Bhattacharyya, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, Calcutta, 1968

L. A Waddell, Buddhism and Lamaism of Tibet, Delh1979, (reprint)

Marylin M. Rhie & Robert A.F. Thurman, Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet, Thames and Hudson, 1996

Stephen Beyer, The Cult of Tara: Magic and Ritual in Tibet, Berkely, 1973

This description is by Dr. Shailendra K. Verma, whose Doctorate thesis is on "Emergence and Evolution of the Buddha Image (From its inception to 8th century A.D.)".

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