A partial-gilt bronze figure of green tara and her eight emanations
15th Century, Tibet
Height 29.5 cm, 11.61 inches
‘Tara’, also known as ‘the-One-Who-Liberates’, ‘the Mother-of-all-Buddhas’, and ‘the Wisdom Dākinī,’ is generally regarded as the most important and popular female deity of the entire Indo-Tibetan Buddhist pantheon. Within both the Mahayana and Vajrayana forms of Buddhism, Tara is believed to be a heavenly savior who compassionately ferries devotees across the troubled waters of intrinsic existence (saṃsāra), the Sanskrit root ‘tār’ literally translating to ‘traverse’, ‘cross over’ or ‘ferry across.’
Whilst Tara has twenty-one major forms in Tibetan contexts, this 16th century parcel gilt bronze statue depicts her in her ‘green’ form (Sk: Ārya Tārā, Tib: drol ma jang ku), confirmed by the eight emanations that surround her. Each of these emanations represents the goddess’ ability to protect sentient beings from the ‘eight great fears’; floods, lions, fire, snakes, elephants, thieves, imprisonment and demons. These ‘fears’ have a deeper significance however, in that they symbolize the forces of attachment, pride, anger, envy, ignorance, wrong views, avarice and doubt.