Tara the Savioress
Nepal, 14th century. Gilt copper alloy, semiprecious stones, gold, and pigment. Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis V. Bell Fund, 1966.

Tara, savioress and goddess of compassion, is a deity of immense significance among Buddhists. Her name is derived from the verb tara, meaning "to cross," for she enables the devotee to cross the ocean of existence. Supplicants chiefly approach Tara for protection, but also make requests for material benefits. In this splendid example of Nepalese metalwork, with its characteristic inlay of semiprecious stones, Tara is depicted as a slender maiden of benign expression. She is regally ornamented with a flamboyant, jewel-encrusted crown secured by elaborate, fluttering ribbons, and her lotus is seen at her left shoulder. Her hands are imprinted with auspicious symbols; one makes the gesture of teaching, while the other is lowered in the wish-granting gesture. Although clearly made by Nepalese hands, this image was either commissioned by a Tibetan or made for the Tibetan market, for the gold and color applied to Tara's face reflect Tibetan practice.

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Tara the Savioress