Shrine Relief Fragment Depicting Ashtamahabhaya Tara, the Buddhist Savioress

India (Himachal Pradesh)

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 237

Tara’s title, Ashtamahabhaya, refers to the eight great perils from which she offers sanctuary: lions, snakes, thieves, enslavement, yakshas, shipwreck, fire, and rampaging elephants (the last two are shown at the lower right). Merchants, including mariners, who regularly confronted such dangers, particularly venerated this goddess. The Ashtamahabhaya iconography first appears in conjunction with Avalokiteshvara imagery in rock-cut sanctuaries in western India. The architectural style of the shrine setting is similar to extant temples in Himachal Pradesh, allowing this image to be dated to the tenth or eleventh century.

Shrine Relief Fragment Depicting Ashtamahabhaya Tara, the Buddhist Savioress, Wood, India (Himachal Pradesh)

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