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White Tara and Green Tara

Date:
1450–1500
Culture:
Western Tibet (Guge)
Medium:
Distemper on cloth
Dimensions:
Image: 20 1/4 x 20 in. (51.4 x 50.8 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Oscar L. Tang Gift, in honor of Agnes Hsu, 2012
Accession Number:
2012.460
Not on view
In this unique arrangement of an extremely rare subject, two taras are seated on lotus thrones rising from pools set in a mountainous backdrop. The White Tara, represented with the multiple eyes of omniscience, sits in meditation posture, while the Green Tara hangs one leg pendant. Both lower one hand in the boon-giving varada mudra. The two wives of the first king of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo, were understood to be emanations of Tara; the princess from Nepal is identified with White Tara and the Chinese princess with Green Tara. As King Songtsen Gampo is accepted as a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva and the two taras depicted here are understood to evoke the historical figures credited with establishing Buddhism in Tibet. A Kashmiri influence is detectable in the Guge school, seen here in the sculpted torsos and dress.
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