Tibet, standing Tara

11th-12th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze inlaid with , at the Potala.

11th-12th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze inlaid with turquoise, cold gold, pigments, at the Potala, in Lhassa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This early statue is thought to have been made by an Indian artist as it was early days for Tibetan artists to have mastered this intricate Pala style. Tara, a buddha and long-life deity, is depicted in bodhisattva attire, with a tall chignon topped with a floral finial and painted with lapis lazuli powder, some loose strands of hair falling over her shoulders. She has a finely incised five-leaf crown inlaid with turquoise, decorated with rosettes and bows, and upward flowing ribbons (one is broken). In her left hand, she holds a long-stemmed lotus topped with a long-life vase. Her long dhoti is made of strips inlaid with what looks like copper and silver pieces, some of them with a floral pattern, with fine beading between each strip. It is held in place with a belt decorated with lotus flowers. The ends of the garment are folded in a zig-zag shape at the front before ending in a floral shape incised with turquoise. Her Indian-style jewellery and even her sacred thread are also inlaid with stones. She has an elongated tear-shape urna. Her face has been painted with cold gold and pigments, like the one below.

13th century, gilt copper, at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhassa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

13th century, gilt copper, at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

On this less elaborate version she is wearing a long dhoti and the kind of skirt that is often seen on Nepalese sculptures of Tara, which only covers the back of her legs. She holds a lotus flower in her left hand.

13th century, Tibet, Tara, brass, at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhassa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder

13th century, Tibet, Tara, brass, at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This Indian-style statue is badly damaged but the fact that she is peaceful and has one head, two hands, and appears to have had lotuses on each side and one hand forward suggests that this is Tara. She is wearing a sacred thread that passes under her belt to form some loops.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Tara, painted stone, private collection.

14th-15th century, Tibet, Tara, painted stone, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This is a rare example of Tara made out of stone and painted with pigments. We can appreciate the vibrant colours of her dhoti, her crown, decorated with rosettes and the ribbons flowing behind it.

15th century, Tibet, Tara, copper alloy, at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.

15th century, Tibet, Tara, copper alloy, at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.

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