5-6 Feet 1111 Green Tara (10-12 Feet with silk mount)
Name: 1111 Green Tara
Artist: Master Locho and Sarika Singh
Seven Years in Making ( 2011- 2018)
1111 Green Tara is inspired by a Tibetan style of Art that developed in Tibet over a period of 1,000 years. In Tibet, the Buddhist scroll paintings came to be known as thangka paintings. In this thangka, Green Tara is depicted as the central figure, surrounded by 1,111 smaller depictions of Tara. In 2005, Sarika Singh was invited to the opening of an exhibition at the British Museum in London, which showcased the Hahn Cultural Foundation's collection of Tibetan thangka paintings. Headed by Dr. Hahn Kwang-ho in Korea, the Hahn Cultural Foundation has acquired masterpieces from numerous regions and time periods, curating a world-class art collection. Among the paintings featured in this exhibition was a representation of the Green Tara that inspired Sarika Singh to embark on creating her own representation of 1,111 Green Taras.
Tibetan thangka paintings are a unique genre of Buddhist paintings as they have their own particular style and importance that reflect the nature of Tibetan Buddhism and illustrate the characteristics of the Tibetan people. The thangka painting showcased at this exhibition dates back to the late 17th or early 18th century. There are three other paintings that are nearly identical to this one, each with a central Green Tara and over 1,000 other representations of her lining the background. These four paintings may have been parts of a set, most likely housed in the Potala Palace in the city of Lhasa, Tibet. Potala Palace was the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas from 1649 to 1959, when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet in exile. The palace is named after Mount Patalaka, the mythical abode of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and a protector of Tibet.
The central Tara is shown gazing forward, which deviates from the more common representation of the deity gazing inwards. She is trying to communicate something to the viewer rather than looking inside herself. Her right hand performs the mudra of generosity, while holding the stem of a pink and orange lotus flower. Her right foot is stepping out towards the human realm. Through her gaze, mudra, and foot position, she is communicating to the viewer that she is here to help us along our journey. She wears intricately patterned pants and a shawl around her shoulders, but she is bare-chested, conveying openness and truth. Her left hand, which holds the stem of a white lotus, is positioned over her heart in a mudra of compassion. Accenting her golden crown, she is ringed in a golden areola. Surrounding her are flowers and clouds. The flowers appear to be growing out of her being - she is their roots and their source of life; conveying the essence of Tara as the ultimate mother and creator. The Buddha on top of an orange lotus is perched above her wreathed in green foliage and flowers. Each cloud in this image is carefully shaded, brush stroke by brush stroke, with the utmost attention to detail.
There are 1,111 smaller representation of Tara, identical in form, filling the background of this image; each one meticulously painted, each face with precise features. The sheer repetition of creating the smaller Tara figures emphasizes the dedication of compassion to one's self and to others. Some of the figures are enclosed in rainbow circles, floating atop of lotus beds.
While the four paintings are nearly identical, each one has a different deity depicted right below the central Tara. In this representation of Tara, the deity below her is the Sridevi, known as Paldhen Lhamo in Tibetan, who is the special protector of the city of Lhasa, the Gelupka Order, and the Dalai Lama. She is also one of the most wrathful female deities of Buddhism. Depicted using the flayed skin of her son as a saddle blanket upon her stead, she rides across a sea of blood in a dark cloud of smoke and fire. She wears a belt of severed heads and holds a skull cup in her left hand. The grotesque details insinuating violence is not included because she is evil, but rather as a motif of inner transformation in a compassionate religion. Demonstrating the determination needed to overcome obstacles within one's self and in the exterior world, she is a protectress who will fight against evil and violence. But to do so she must embody those attributes to scare away wrongdoers and demons. This deity is also sacred to the Dalai Lama, as it is believed that Paldhen Lhamo is the special protector of his being; he carried a thangka painting of her with him as he fled from Tibet in 1959.
On either side of the ornate colorful table below Tara's lotus stand are snow lions, mythical creatures and the national emblem of Tibet. The snow lion represents the snowy mountain ranges and glaciers of Tibet; symbolizing power and strength, fearlessness, and joy. It is also an homage to the struggle for autonomy in Tibet, as it is a feature still included on the Tibetan government-in-exile's flag.
This painting was executed by Master Locho and his assistant Bandana. The minerals used to create the colors of this painting are azurite blue, utramarine blue, malachite green, cinnabar vermillion red, orpiment yellow, and calcium carbonate white chalk. In addition to these minerals, pure gold and silver are used as accent colors. These mineral pigments are mixed with glue and water to create different colored paints. As evidenced by the preservation of Thangka paintings from a thousand years ago, using this traditional process ensures the longevity of the painting.