The Goddess Tara

The Goddess Tara
ca. 14th century
Gilt bronze with inlay of semiprecious stones
H: 13 cm

Bequest of Alan Flacks, Monte Carlo
Accession number: B88.0046

Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Tara is one of the benevolent deities in the Buddhist pantheon, the female counterpart of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. This popular Goddess of Mercy is a personal deity - present on every altar, at the constant disposal of the devotee needing assistance, and on hand to receive thanks for benefits granted. From early beginnings in India, her cult spread to the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet, where she amassed a large following of worshipers.
Here she is depicted as a princess, her lithe, rounded body accentuated by jewelry inlaid with semiprecious stones. Originally meant to be supported by a lotus base (now missing), Tara sits in a position of royal ease, her patterned skirt ending in a pleated sash. Her right hand makes the gesture of charity and her left hand holds the stem of an open lotus. The Nepali artist has depicted the humanity of this goddess with great charm.

The Israel Museum, Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2005