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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Mongolian
Creator Name-CRT: Tibetan or Mongolian
Title: White Tara
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1600
Creation End Date: 1699
Creation Date: 17th century
Creation Place: Tibet or Mongolia
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Silver with gold and inlays of semiprecious stone
Dimensions: H. 6 3/4 in. (17.1 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.052
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: Tibetan sculpture is characterized by a conservative and complicated iconography, and the acceptance and adaptation of figures, facial types, and clothing associated with many other cultures and various eras. The interest in ornamentation often seen in later Tibetan sculptures is illustrated by the blue hair, elaborate jewelry, and two types of metal in this sculpture of the goddess Tara, which can be dated to the 17th century. Her pose and hand gestures identify this image as White Tara, an embodiment of infinite compassion. The eyes in the center of her forehead and the palm of each hand symbolize Tara's vigilance on behalf of all sentient beings. Made of silver, this sculpture is decorated with gold and inlaid semiprecious stone. Tara's silver skirt and gold scarf are precisely carved with rich floral motifs. Her crown, jewelry, and the astonishing girdle that covers her skirt were cast in gold and lavishly inlaid with semiprecious stone, including turquoise. The silver used to make this statue may have come from China, which at the time had strong cultural, religious, and economic ties with Tibet.
It has been suggested that this sculpture might be a smaller version of the large silver images of White Tara used to decorate the halls of the Potala Place in Lhasa. The construction of this temple and of its many large-scale sculptures was one of the most important events in the 17th century, and its impact on the development of Tibetan art remains a topic for future study. However, the type of jewelry the goddess wears and the use of turquoise inlay are commonly found in sculptures from Mongolia, and it is possible that this sculpture was made there.
Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, , p. 26.
Related Document Description: Huntington, John C. 'Three Essays on Himalayan Metal Images.' Apollo (November 1983), pp. 424-25.
Related Document Description: Rhie, Marylin M., and Robert A. F. Thurman. From the Land of the Snows: Buddhist Art of Tibet. Amherst, Mass.: Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, 1984, p. 10.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.052
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, Asia Society
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