Tibet, White Tara (8)

15th century, Tibet, Tsang province, metal (copper alloy), at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (USA).White Tara’s thin waist, silk shawl and festooned necklace denote a Chinese influence, while her facial features and the absence of gilding are typical of Tibetan works. She holds the stem of a blue lotus in her left hand (doing the gesture to bestow refuge) and has an open lotus next to her right shoulder.

Undated, Tibet, Tara, gilt metal with silver inlay, private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

A rare sculpture of White Tara with an effigy of Amitabha on her chignon, the  three eyes on her face inlaid with silver. She is seated on a lotus base with thick beading at the bottom but none at the top.

16th century, Tibet, Tara, silver with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The turquoise-inlaid protuberance on her forehead looks more like an urna (orginially a lock of hair on the forehead of the historical buddh) than a third eye (which is always vertical and narrow), in which case we would be looking at Vishvamata.

17th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with stone inlay, at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada).

We saw a Green Tara from the same museum, adorned with similar accessories with very intricate details (thanks to the repoussé technique), reminiscent of some Mongolian works.

Undated, Tibet, Tara (copper alloy), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources, item 59525.

A brass sculpture with Kashmiri features such as the cruciform navel and the inverted U-shaped hem of her bodice, Western Tibetan elements such as the five-point crown with triangular panels  and the plump oval face associated with Guge but without silver inlay for the eyes, together with a silk shawl forming loops at elbow level, an ample lower garment folded loosely over the legs, plain jewellery, an elongated torso and a thin waist suggesting a Chinese influence. The third eye on her face is barely incised above her unibrow.

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Tibet, Tara – variants (2)

14th century, Tibet, Tara, brass, private collection, photo by Marie-Catherine Daffos on aaoartsA rich copper alloy sculpture of White Tara, seated with her legs locked, a third eye on her forehead and an eye incised in the palm of her hands and the sole of her feet, a sash drawn across her breast. She holds the stem of a lotus in her left hand while doing a refuge-bestowing gesture, and displays supreme generosity with the other. A blue lotus rises from the base to her right.

15th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), lotus not original, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 736, China 3.

Circa 18th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), photo by Marie-Catherine Daffos for aaoarts.

17th century, Tibet, Tara (labelled “Amitayus”), private collection, photo on  Cambiaste

17th century, Tibet, Tara, soapstone, private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17347.This Tara wears bulky jewellery including some ‘shin ornaments’ on top of her lower garment.

17th-18th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by photo by Nagel.

The missing hair ornament on this Pala-revival work reveals a cascade of curls on each side of her head.Note the huge floral earrings.

17th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17347.

18th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 101 China 2.A curious figure holding the stem of lotuses topped with a book and a conch shell.

15th century, Central Tibet, gilt bronze with turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo by Hollywood Galleries .

Tara with four heads, each one with a third eye, and eight hands. From top to bottom she holds a sword and a lotus, a bow and an arrow, a wheel and another object, a vajra sceptre and a noose.

Tibet, White Tara (7)

13th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze with paint and turquoise, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Following the Tibetan custom, this Pala-style White Tara has her face painted with cold gold and pigments and her hair dyed blue. Cold gold has also been used for the crown, its ribbons and rosettes, and her earrings.

14th century, Tibet, Tara with 20 emanations and a monk, stone and pigments, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

The figures on the bottom row of this stele all have a leg pendent like Green Tara, except for the monk (or perhaps lama) in the right hand corner. Above them, the figures at each end also sit with one leg unfolded, the others are like White Tara.

16th century, Central Tibet, Tara, bronze (copper alloy) with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Polyauction.

When seated, White Tara always has her legs locked. She has three eyes, inlaid with silver on this masterpiece.

16th-17th c., Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze+gems, 10 cm, Galerie Zacke

16th-17th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with gems, private collection, photo by Galerie Zacke.

In most cases, her right hand is extended palm out to indicate supreme generosity and her left hand displays a gesture to offer refuge.

18th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Koller.

 

Tibet, Tara – variants

 

14th century, Tibet, Vishvamata? (labelled Tara), gilt silver with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

In Tibet, most sculptures of Tara show her seated. When her legs are locked in the vajra position, we are looking at White Tara (with a white skin on paintings). She has three eyes on her face and an eye in the palm of each hand. Her attribute is the lotus, which she holds in her left hand while the other is held out in a gesture of generosity. The above appears to have a turquoise-inlaid urna but in fact the stone has been added on top of her third eye (which is always vertical).

17th-18th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt copper alloy, at the British Museum in London (UK).

The hand position of the above deity doesn’t correspond to the standard iconography for Tara. Presumably, the eye in the palm of her left hand is visible and identifies her beyond doubt. She has two lotuses in her headdress and is adorned with floral jewellery.

16th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

White Tara may also be standing. The above has an effigy of Amitabha in her headdress.

13th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze (brass) with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Koller.

When she has the right leg pendent, with the foot resting on a lotus stemming from the base, we are looking at Green Tara (with a green skin on paintings). She is always seated, only has two eyes, and also holds a lotus. On this Pala-style work her right hand does the gesture of supreme generosity and displays an embossed lotus in her palm.

Her eyes are inlaid with silver. The pupils are placed high up, in the Indian fashion

Her belt is inlaid with copper, her garment is decorated with rows of silver and copper-inlaid florets.

Late 16th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Tibet, White Tara (6)

13th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt copper or copper alloy, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The deity is seated on a Nepalese-style lotus base with broad petals, her body and faced are gilt but not the lower garment or the pedestal. She has a third eye (not an urna) on her forehead. Her right hand displays the gesture of generosity, the other holds the stem of a lotus.

17th century, Tibet or Mongolia, Tara, wood, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The eyes in the palm of her hands  and on her forehead and the fact that her legs are in the vajra position tell us this is White Tara. The left hand is held to hold a (missing) flower.

17th century, Tibet, gilt c.a., private collection, photo by Christie’s.

On this variant, Tara’s left hand does the teaching gesture while holding the (broken) stem of a blue lotus. The tip of her right thumb touches the tip of the forefinger to display knowledge.

18th c., Tibet, first half, Tara, gilt c.a. rep+turq.+pig., sep. cast parts, 58,4 cm, Freer Sackler gallery

First half of the 18th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt copper alloy repoussé and separately cast parts, stone inlay and pigments, at the Freer and Sackler galleries in Washington DC (USA).

We saw an 18th century Green Tara with a similar type of necklace and cut out lotus from the same museum. This one has a lower crown which shows her topknot supporting a lotus and flaming jewel finial. The style and repoussé technique suggest a Mongolian influence.

18th c., Tibet, Tara, gilt cop.+stones, 89 cm, Paris Sotheby's

Same, gilt copper and stones, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

An odd mixture of broad shoulders and an exaggeratedly thin waist and elongated torso (the latter recalling 15th century Xuande Ming dynasty works) contrasting with an undersized head. She wears a shawl over her shoulders and a long and ample silk lower garment. The tip of her middle finger on her left hand presses the tip of the thumb, a gesture to ward off evil (in Tibet it is usually seen on wrathful deities holding a lasso).

Tibet, standing Tara (2)

12th century, Tibet, Tara, brass with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Standing on a tall lotus base with apple-like petals, Tara does the refuge-bestowing gesture with her left hand while holding the stem of a lotus, her right hand displaying supreme generosity. Her face is painted with cold gold, the hair is dyed with blue pigment. She wears a garland and a diaphanous sash across her chest and two see-through lower garments, held in place with a heavy belt decorated with pendants.

12th-13th c., Tibet, Tara, bronze+cold g., 20,8 cm, flaming mandorla, varada+kartari+ lotus, Pala style, Paris Sotheby's

12th-13th century, Tibet, Tara, bronze with cold gold, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This Pala-style sculpture depicts her on a single lotus over a stepped tortoise-base typical of Northeast India, wearing a long stripy garment  with a stippled floral motif. Her low tiara with large bows reveals an exaggeratedly tall chignon with showy ornaments.

There  is a round object in the palm of her right hand, possibly a large gem.

There are over twenty different forms of Tara and most of them are usually seated but they may be standing.

Undated (18th century circa?), Tibet, Tara, gilt metal, at the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York (USA).

17th-18th century, Tibet, Tara, gilt bronze with copper and silver inlay, pigments, at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

White Tara, standing on a Pala-style pedestal, her right hand extended, the other holding the stem of a lotus, her garment inlaid with copper and silver roundels to imitate the original Indian Pala art, her face with three eyes, painted with cold gold and pigments.

Tibet, White Tara (5)

12th century circa, Central Tibet, Tara, stone, at the Art Institute of Chicago (USA).

12th century circa, Central Tibet, Tara, stone, at the Art Institute of Chicago (USA).

White Tara holds the stems of lotuses, one of them in full bloom. She is dressed in a striped dhoti and adorned with a five-leaf crown and heavy jewellery.

Same as before.

Same as before.

She normally holds her right hand palm out, to display the gesture of supreme generosity.