Tara is an important deity in Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibet and among Tibetans in Nepal, Tara is a Buddha of compassion and is very commonly worshipped. She is also a savioress, similar to the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, who remains on the Earth to guide humanity between the era of the Gautama Buddha and the Maitreya Buddha. Her hands she make two mudras, the left granting refuge and the right granting prosperity. Tara is typically depicted as a youthful deity with much ornamentation. The crown atop her head as well jewelry and ribbons give a sense of royalty and divinity. The lotus throne upon which she is seated is ubiquitous in depictions of both Hindu and Buddhist deities. Even though Tara is technically a Buddhist deity, her iconography is very similar to Hindu goddesses. In the Malla era of Nepali art (ca. 1201-1769), it was primarily Nepali Newars who were working with bronze, so most Tibetan Buddhist sculpture was actually made by Hindus. Newar artists kept good records, and on this piece there is an inscription that translates to, “In memory of two who died in the family of Purne, this was made in the Newar era 817 (CE 1697).” In the Kathmandu Valley, there is a high level of religious synchronicity, and Hindu deities and Buddhist deities are often worshipped side-by-side by both sects.
-Constantine Botimer, Class of 2019