Ushnishasitapattra, a Buddhist goddess venerated especially by monks of Ganden-Pa, an order of Tibetan Buddhism, is best understood as the female form of Avalokiteshvara. Her greatly complex iconography, which some argue is the most complex of the multifaceted iconography prevalent in Buddhism, has been expressed with skilful perfection in this gorgeous thangka from the Exotic India collection. The soothing pastels of the landscape motifs in the background - the deep blue skies studded with celestial bodies, the mounds of greenery laden earth, and the gorgeous colours of each stem and petal of the gigantic roses that flank the Goddess - set off to perfection Her flaming aureole and Her imposing figure.
Ushnishasitapattra is revered by many to be a special, intense form of the more popular Goddess Tara. She has the same classical beauty of countenance, characteristically lengthy earlobes that are a sign of divine wisdom, and immortally pristine skin; while on the contrary She has a thousand each of heads and both limbs. Deities with multiple heads and/or numberless arms are not uncommon in religious iconography of the East, but Ushnishasitapattra is portrayed with as many legs as She has arms and heads. Each of Her heads is replete with three eyes, the additional one being obviously centred on the brow, while an eye graces each of Her forearms and palms as well.
In her numberless arms She holds conchs, jewels, and ritual implements that double as weapons. She is decked up in gracious golds all over: chunky armlets and wristlets and anklets on each of Her limbs, large bejewelled hoops hanging down Her lobes, and a clutch of gold neckpieces that reach all the way down to Her slender waist. From underneath Her studded gold crown set with blushing lotuses cascades her wondrous blue hair and spreads about her delicately curved shoulders. The train of her skirts and the profusion of scarves around Her figure are indicative of heavenly abundance.
She crushes a myriad of mortals beneath Her thousand feet, which is symbolic of how the Goddess Ushnishasitapattra is adept at conquering the individual human ego. Atop Her thousand heads is a parasol that gives away Her protective instinct when it comes to the fear in the hearts of Her devotees. On the top portion of the thangka She is flanked by Shakyamuni Himself, replete with the bhumisparsha mudra (earth-touching gesture) and a bejewelled aureole whose pastel-coloured studs complement the soothing colour the halo is done in; and Green Tara Herself who is also floating amidst the clouds on a brightly hued lotus. Beneath Ushnishasitapattra's feet are three figures of two-armed Dandapani Mahakala, which is a wrathful form of the peaceful Avalokiteshvara Himself. Each Mahakala figure has been painted atop a lotus, with ignorant mortals suffering under His feet. His ferocious countenance and flaming background are in stark contrast to the graceful depiction of Ushnishasitapattra.