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- Textile tangka
- Length: 27.50 inch
- Width: 22.25 inch
- Acquired: Likir Monastery in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India
- Koelz number: K569
Tara. The central figure in this tangka is the goddess Tara (Sgrol-ma). She is a White Tara with only two eyes, a form of Tara found mainly in India. The central Tara sits in the meditative pose with the soles of both feet visible. Her right hand is held palm-outward in front of her right knee with thumb and ring finger touching; her left hand is held palm-outward at the center of her chest with the thumb and ring finger touching also. The ring finger pressing against the thumb is the conventional pose representing the holding of a lotus stem. She has a lotus at each shoulder.
The upper three-quarters of the tangka consists of a group of twenty-one Taras, the large central figure and twenty smaller ones arranged in registers. Each smaller figure of Tara holds the lotus stem in her left hand and has a lotus blossom at her left shoulder; each holds the vase of eternal life in her right hand, which is held in front of the right knee in a position normal for the varada, or gift-giving, mudra; all face toward the large central Tara.
The next group of Tara images occurs in the lower portion of the tangka. There are seven images in a register across the bottom border and one image above the first on our left, making a total of eight. These forms represent Tara in her role as the defender from the eight dreads: suspicion, passion, avarice, envy, false religious doctrines, anger, mental darkness, and pride. The other occupants of the lower quarter of the tangka are the dharmapala and god of wealth, Vaishravana.
The three multi-armed figures at the top center present the most difficult interpretive problem. The figure on the left of the main Tara seems to be the Sadaksari form of Avalokiteshvara, the form that is incarnate in the Dalai Lamas. The figure on the right of the central Tara would seem to be Prajnaparamita. The figure directly above the main Tara image has one head, six arms, wears a five-leafed crown, and sits on a double lotus. The two primary arms are in the mudra of Amoghasiddhi, but the color is white, not green as it should be for that Buddha.
A small patron figure appears in the center petals of Tara's lotus throne with hands in the anjali mudra of reverence. This figure also appears in the Amitayus tangka (tangka 17457). Similar figures can be seen in the paintings of the royal family at Basgo Monastery done in the Kälzang temple in the early 17th century, and it is likely that this tangka is a local product of that period.
Note: There is a vertical seam on the left side of the painting so that the width is composed of two pieces of material, one approximately 17.5 inches wide and the other 5 inches wide. 17th century. Note: Jeffrey Watt, Himalayan Art Resources, attributes to the 18th century.