Green Tara and Attendants (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

14th century
silver, copper alloy, copper, gold, gilded copper, and gilded silver
Central Tibet
Overall: 8 3/4 × 6 × 4 in. (22.23 × 15.24 × 10.16 cm)
Not on view
This dazzling image—fashioned from multiple metals in layer upon layer of rich elaboration—is a masterpiece of Tibetan craftsmanship and artistry. It depicts the Buddhist goddess Tara, a universal mother who nurtures and protects seekers on the spiritual path. Shown in her popular form of Green Tara, she sits on a three-tiered lotus blossom, one leg down in the posture of ease. Smaller lotus blossoms rise to frame her benevolent face, and she holds her hands in the gestures of charity and teaching. Her youthful body is adorned with gilded ornaments and clinging textiles decorated with minute copper inlays. Blossoms emerging from the sides of her spectacularly complex lotus pedestal support the Bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya. Two acrobatic serpent deities, or nagas, climb up the sides of this teeming, organic structure to offer Green Tara treasures. Between them sits White Tara, and a third form of the goddess is concealed with the pedestal’s scrolling openwork.
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
2018: Collecting for the Commonwealth Preserving for the Nation, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1919-2018, Winter Antiques Show, Park Avenue Armory, New York City, NY, January 18 - 26, 2018.
Barriault, Anne B., and Kay M. Davidson. Selections from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond, VA: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2007. (pp 184-185)

Miranda Shaw, The Buddhist Goddesses of India (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006) pp. 324-333, b&w ill. fig.17.3.

Vidya Dehejia, Devi The Great Goddess exhibition catalogue (Washington DC: The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, in association with Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad and Prestel Verlag, Munich, 1999) pp. 299-300, cat. no. 56, color ill. p. 299.

Anne Barriault, Selections Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1997) p. 25, ill. (color).

Holland Cotter, "In the Shade of the Bodhi Tree," Art in America, Vol. 78, No. 11, Nov. 1990, pp. 172-181, 220-221, ill.

Leaves from the Bodhi Tree, no. 155
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Green Tara
VMFA in association with New Millienium Studios

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