An ungilt bronze figure of a Tara
Circa 1300, Tibet
Height: 44 cm, 17.3 inches
This sensuous bronze figure of dark patina is seated in vajrasana - the legs cast in the round, with no opening into the figure from underneath. Her right arm is relaxed, with the hand resting on her right knee in varada mudra - the gesture of charity, signifying the fulfillment of all wishes. The left arm is raised, with the hand forming a circle with thumb and finger through which passes the stem of a lotus flower (originally a flower would have flanked the left shoulder).
The Tara is dressed in a dhoti that clings to her legs and collects in folds on the ground in front. Elaborate jewellery adorns her naked torso - the ribs indicated by three vertical lines; she wears necklaces, floral arm bands, bracelets, and large disk-like earrings. A five-pronged floral crown rests upon a curling fringe; this crown would have screened a topknot of hair, now missing. The face is painted in cold gold and cast with a smiling full-lipped countenance.
Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet, Expanded Edition, by Marylin M. Rhie and Robert A.F. Thurman, Tibet House New York in association with Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers - figure 29, page 138.
Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet Volume II, Tibet and China, by Ulrich von Schroeder, Visual Dharma Publications Ltd., Hong Kong - figure XVIII-4, page 1131.