Swat Valley, four seated figures

7th century, Swat Valley, Pakistan, Tara (?), brass with silver and copper inlay, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

7th century, Swat Valley, Pakistan, Tara, brass with silver and copper inlay, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

This female deity, possibly Tara, sits in the lotus position on a typical Swat Valley double-lotus base, her hair tied in a bunch on top of her head, adorned with a small crown with a lotus motif, very large earrings, plain bangles, and a necklace.  She has a chubby face with a fleshy nose, large silver-inlaid eyes, generous copper-inlaid lips. The urna on her forehead is also inlaid with silver. The hem of her tight-fitted bodice is incised with holes. Her lower garment is arranged into a wide scallop shape under her legs.

7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Tara, dark bronze, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (UK).

7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Afghanistan, Tara, bronze inlaid with silver, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (UK).

This dark bronze depicts a female deity, probably Tara, seated in the lotus position on an ornate cushion over a throne supported by two lions, her hands cupped to hold what seems to be a manuscript. She wears a low crown made of crescents and some plain jewellery. There are long stands of curly hair falling over her shoulders. This type of lion throne, with tassels and resting on a single-lotus base, is typical of the Swat Valley area.

 

7th century., Swat Valley, Tara, gilt bronze, 8 cm, Ashmolean Museum.

7th century., Swat Valley, Tara, gilt bronze, 8 cm, Ashmolean Museum.

White Tara, seated in the lotus position on a double-lotus base, holds the stem of a lotus in her left hand and does the generosity gesture with the other. Her hair is tied back and adorned with a small tiara. She wears plain jewellery and large ear ornaments. She has a gentle oval face with wide eyes, a large mouth and a small nose. The use of gilding is not usual in the Swat Valley area but not altogether unknown, as we can see below.

6th-7th century, Swat Valley, male figure, gilt copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

6th-7th century, Swat Valley, male figure, gilt copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This figure, seated in the manner of the mahasiddhas (Indian adepts), holds a fly whisk in his right hand. His thick curly hair is tied into an ornate bunch on top of his head.

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