Tara, the Buddhist Savior
Nepal (Kathmandu Valley)
Gilt copper alloy with color, inlaid with semiprecious stones
H. 20 1/4 in. (51.4 cm)
Louis V. Bell Fund, 1966
Tara confronts the viewer, offering boons with her lower hand, which also grasps a gem or fruit. In her other hand she holds a lotus stem, a reference to the male bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. In this particular form, Tara becomes one of the most important Buddhist deities across the Himalayas and is often mentioned in the context of her appearance in dreams. Tara protects devotees from harm and provides them access to the intellectual dimension of Buddhist ideology. By the fourteenth century, when this image was made, a new stylistic taste had emerged in the Kathmandu Valley that emphasized formal and elongated modes of representation.