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The Buddhist deity White Tara

The Buddhist deity White Tara, approx. 1400-1500

The Buddhist deity White Tara, approx. 1400–1500. Nepal. Gilded copper repousse. The Avery Brundage Collection, B60S22+.


According to the First Dalai Lalma, White Tara is "the wisdom, compassion, and enlightened activity of all buddhas arising in the form of a beautiful goddess." She is an important goddess in Nepal and Tibet, and worship of her dates from the 600s, when the two queens of the Tibetan king Songtsen Gambo (reigned approx. 627–649) were deified and worshiped as the two forms of Tara.

White Tara's right hand, posed in the gesture of gift-granting, indicates her gifts of spiritual attainments and buddhahood to disciples. Her left hand, posed in the gesture of dispelling fear, shows that she protects disciples from all dangers, and disasters. The eyes on her palms and the soles of her feet shows her mastery of the four doors of liberation through which she frees all beings from misery. Her graceful figure symoblizes both compassion and radiance. The sculpture is the product of the Newars of Kathmandu Valley, who remain among the best artists of Asia, excelling in bronze casting and repoussé work.