She has seven eyes: the two usual eyes, plus an eye in the center of herforehead and eyes in each of her hands and feet. These indicate that shesees all suffering and all cries for help in the human world using bothordinary and psychic or extraordinary means of perception. They thussymbolize the vigilance of her compassion.
White Tara has a lovely, young face. Her ornaments are covered in jewels.Her silk robes and scarves are painted in an exceptionally lively manner.Her tight fitting garments are embossed with large, rich floral designs.These filmy garments; bright gauzy silks fluttering from the shoulders and aseries of many hued silken skirts- leave the slender torso and smoothlyrounded breasts uncovered in the manner of ancient India. The whole effectis so ravishing that she might well arouse the very passion she isfrequently invoked to calm, were it not that she inspires the kind ofexalted reverence a palace guard might be expected to feel for a young andlovely princess entrusted to his care.
With her right hand she makes the boon granting gesture and her left hand,holding the stem of a lotus flower between her thumb and fourth finger, isin the protection position.
The elaborate lotus flower, held in the left hand is called Utpala. Itcontains three blooms: the first, with seeds, symbolizes the past BuddhaKashyapa; the second in full flower, symbolizes the present BuddhaShakyamuni; and the third, ready to bloom, symbolizes the future BuddhasMaitreya. This signifies that White Tara is the essence of all the threeBuddhas of the past, the present and the future.
She sits with both legs raised and crossed in the vajra (diamond) positionand regally displays both grace and calm.
Her incomparable beauty have inspired her worshippers to address her thus:
''Radiant as the eternal snows in all their glory, homage to the
Youthful One with full breasts, One face and two arms. And is filled withgreat bliss''
White Tara is an emanation of Tara who is connected with longevity. She isalso the special goddess who helps her devotees overcome obstacles,particularly impediments to the practice of religion.
Indeed in the vast expanse of Buddhist art the image of the White Tara withher feminine charm and sophisticated imagery represents a superiorconception unparalleled in any other art tradition. Open to diverseinterpretations both on the sensual and spiritual planes, the White Tara hasinspired generations of devotee artists to achieve creative heights whileadhering to the strict iconographical cannons laid down in the ancienttexts, and in the process acquiring both spiritual merit and the boon of theGoddess.
This description by Nitin Kumar, Executive Editor, Exotic India.
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Fisher, Robert E. Art of Tibet. London: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
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Lipton, Barbara, and Ragnubs, Nima Dorjee. Treasures of Tibetan Art:Collection of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. New York: OxfordUniversity Press, 1996.
Pal, Pratapaditya. Art of Tibet. Los Angeles: The Los Angeles County Museumof Art, 1990.
Rhie, Marylin M. & Thurman, Robert A.F. Wisdom and Compassion: The SacredArt of Tibet. London: Thames and Hudson, 1996.