Tara

Nepal, 16th/17th century
Copper alloy repoussé with gilt and semiprecious stones
Height: 29 cm

Tara, the most beloved goddess of the Indo-Himalayan Buddhist world, is worshipped as a ‘universal mother’ (Shaw). According to legend, Tara was born from the tears of Avalokiteshvara. A very popular Buddhist goddess in Nepal, she is “the female counterpart of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the very embodiment of compassion. Like him she is a savior deity who protects her devotees from earthly dangers and calamities, such as fires, storms, and attacks from bandits and predatory animals. (…) The Buddhist Tara was ultimately absorbed by the Hindus as a deity of transcendental knowledge known collectively as the Dasamahavidya.” Pal

Seated in lalitasana (one leg folded and one pendant) on a double-lotus base, Tara embodies serenity. She has her left hand raised in vitarkamudra, and her right hand lowered in varadamudra. She is dressed in an ankle-length dhoti incised with a foliate pattern, an exuberantly decorated belt, and a sash that curls around her shoulders and arms. She is adorned with elaborate jewellery with semiprecious stone inlays, including a majestic tiara surmounting her hair tied in a chignon, and other adornments in her ankles, arms and wrists.

Her features are marked by intense beauty, with almond-shaped eyes with incisions topped by bowed eyebrows and a centred raised urna, a delicate nose and small lips gently forming a smile. Her expression is of compassion, emphasised by a subtle torsion of the head and body to the side.

The present figure of Tara is made of gilt copper repoussé, a technique by which the sheet of copper was hammered from the reverse, to form the intricate shapes of the figure.

 

Provenance:
Private collection, USA, 1965-2018.

 

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