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This exquisitely made sculpture depicts the Buddhist goddess Tara. She is considered a female Buddha and meditational deity, and is very much popular in Tibet, Nepal and Mongolia In her Green Tara form she is also considered to be the goddess of universal compassion and a manifestation of the actions of all Buddhas.
There are various forms of Tara and among them the Green and White forms are most popular. Green Tara helps her devotees to overcome dangers, fears and anxieties and fulfills their wishes. She also helps believers to cross over from danger to safety or from suffering to happiness and protects them from sixteen popular perils.
She is seated here in the lalitasana on a lotus seat with her right leg pendant on a smaller lotus and the left leg folded in her lap. She has two hands; the right hand is in the gesture of charity (varada) and holding the stem of a full-blown lotus flower, and the left hand which is in the gesture of argumentation / protection likewise holds the stem of a lotus.
Green Tara is considered an incarnation of the Nepalese queen of king Sron-btsan-sgam-po. In paintings, her body complexion is green. The green colour points to the power of performing every kind of action. Her right hand as mentioned above is in the attitude of gifting in order to point out the perfection of liberality (dana-paramita), her left hand is in the gesture of abhay, because it protects creatures from all kinds of fear. She holds the lotus flower in order to show that from her all beings, taking refuge in her, derive their blessedness. She indeed has the power to realize the welfare of all.
The body of the deity is slim and slender. Her hair is partly upswept in knots and partly falls on her shoulders. Her eyes are half closed and there is a sacred circle between the eyebrows. She is adorned with a five-pronged crown, ear-rings, necklaces, a sacred-thread, armlets, bracelets, waist-band and anklets etc. She is also wearing a flowing scarf and skirt. The upper portion of the body is bare, except for the ornaments. The lower garment covers the body upto the feet. The border of the drapery is incised with floral designs.
She descends into the heart of the devotee from her heavenly heights.
This description by Dr. Shailendra Kumar Verma, Ph.D. His doctorate thesis being on the "Emergence and Evolution of the Buddha Image (from its inception to 8th century A.D)"
Alice Getty, The Gods of Northern Buddhism, Tokyo, Japan, 1962.
P. Pal, Art of the Himalaya: Treasures from Nepal and Tibet, New York, 1991.
S.K. Saraswati, Tantrayana Art: An Album, Calcutta, 1997.