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Jonathan Tucker Antonia Tozer Asian Art

POLISHED BLACKSTONE FIGURE OF VAJRA TARA
NORTHEAST INDIA
PROBABLY BIHAR
PALA PERIOD
11TH - 12TH CENTURY
H. 78 CMS, 21 INS.

A polished blackstone (phyllite) figure of a four-armed female deity, probably Vajra Tara, seated on a lotus pedestal adorned with a vajra and with acolytes, dancers and musicians; wearing an elaborate headdress and extensive jewellery and holding a bow and a lotus stem, flanked by two female attendants seated on lotuses and holding what appear to be vajras, the apex with five Buddhas seated in different mudras and accompanied by a further pair of seated females holding a garland and a chowri (fly-whisk).

The Pala Empire controlled the northern and eastern areas of the Indian subcontinent, mainly the Bengal and Bihar regions, from the 8th to the 12th century. The name Pala means "protector" and was used as an ending to the names of all Pala monarchs.

For a related, eight-armed figure of Vajra Tara in the Art Museum of San Francisco, see cat. no. 38 in Susan and John Huntington, Leaves from the Bodhi Tree: The Art of Pala India and Its International Legacy, Dayton Art Institute, 1990.

PROVENANCE: Private German collection. Acquired in the early 1980s.

all text & images Jonathan Tucker Antonia Tozer Asian Art

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